This year, Thanksgiving — known for its food and football — has a trio of games slated on the gridiron. It is feasible that by the time the evening contest has ended, Black Friday will have officially started.
This year, according to Forbes, Black Friday is anticipated to be “bigger than ever,” with predictions of an 11.5 percent increase in shopping on the big day. In addition, Forbes predicts Cyber Monday’s sales will exceed $3 billion, an increase of 9.4 percent over last year. In total, 137.4 million Americans plan to shop Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.
These predictions are nice, especially if they are accurate, since they would result in a solid and much-needed boost to the economy. However, that money is far more beneficial if it is spent locally. That’s where Small Business Saturday comes into play. And while Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still important, Forbes also makes the acute observation that Small Business Saturday might be more important than both of the other holiday shopping excursions.
Small businesses drive much of the United States economy. There are approximately 28 million American small businesses, and they account for more than half (54 percent) of all U.S. sales. Further, it’s not just the number of small businesses that give them an economic advantage; small businesses provide many benefits to consumers that large corporations simply cannot, such as unique offerings to the local community, more personalized service, and — perhaps most importantly — keeping money local.
Small Business Saturday was created seven years ago, and, according to American Express (which created the “holiday”), last year, 95 million consumers participated in the event. We promote local small businesses every year at this time, because they are such a key part of our economy here in the western communities. They are usually owned by people right here in our communities, who depend on their success, and who often take part in other activities and initiatives that enhance the lives of their fellow residents.
We are well aware that many area residents work at national chain stores. We also understand that there are some things on people’s holiday wish lists that are easier to find at national retail chains or online. That’s fine; those businesses benefit the economy as well.
Sometimes, however, it’s time to step away from the mass-produced items. And local businesses are the lifeblood of our community. Without them, there would be fewer options, poorer service, many vacant buildings and a huge hit to our tax base.
Assisting locally owned businesses helps make our community a better place to live. This ultimately leads to better educational options, better recreation, better roads and better emergency services. Local businesses owners are also the ones who more often take ownership in the community, supporting local nonprofits, schools and sports leagues.
So, which locally owned stores should you target? We recommend searching the online membership directories of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce (www.cpbchamber.com), the Wellington Chamber of Commerce (www.wellingtonchamber.com) and the Western Business Alliance (www.thewesternbusinessalliance.com). And while you are at it, many locally owned businesses can be found advertising right here on the pages of the Town-Crier, which is also a locally owned business.