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Shop Local for the Holidays

The Christmas and holiday season is upon us, and Americans are expected to spend over $500 billion on holiday gifts and goodies - over $950 for each average American - over this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

Over a quarter of that holiday spending is done online, with an estimated $150 billion spent for online purchases, with the busiest day online being Cyber Monday - the Monday after Thanksgiving. Today, over 82% of holiday shoppers intend to do at least some of their holiday shopping online.

This year, try to spend more of your holiday dollars at our local shops. At the old-fashioned "brick and mortar" retail stores that make our Downtowns charming, quaint, valuable and vibrant.

Last week's beautiful Christmas Tree lighting in Huntington - that drew over 15,000 to downtown - was a scintillating reminder of why our downtown villages are such magical places. Children played in the pedestrian-only streets. Families walked hand-in-hand. People took photos to remember the night. And Santa Claus took his time to meet every child who wanted to see him.

Shopping local allows you to browse. Sometimes you - or your gift recipient - wants to look at clothes, or jewelry, or toys - before you or they really decide they want it. You can't "try it on" online. And you can't look at a display online and put yourself in the clothes or handle a toy. And how often are you disappointed by the wrong size or wrong fit or wrong look to something ordered online.

Buying local also makes returns easier: Holiday shoppers or gift recipients are expected to return $90 billion in gifts - over 20% of the gifts bought this season. How much easier that is when you can walk back into a store and return or exchange the gift. Or get a different size. Or a different color or design.

And what will become of our Downtowns - and us - if we continue to "mainline" our retail purchases right to the mass distributors of foreign-produced merchandise. America will export our wealth, and our Downtown communities will wither.

So please take a walk through the village. Stop-in the local stores - even if you just want to browse. Grab a hot chocolate or Latte. Smell the freshness of the newly cut pine wreaths and enjoy the sparkle of Christmas lights and tinsel. Listen to the children laugh and marvel, and meet your neighbors right in your neighborhood. And when you can - please shop and buy local.


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