The Wall Street Journal last week reported severe winter weather across much of the U.S. continued to affect retail sales in February, a trend that started in January.
The Gap surprised market watchers by posting a 7 percent drop in sales last month. A monthly increase of 0.9 percent was expected, the Journal said. The chain reported more than 450 of its stores were closed for at least a day in February because of bad weather.
That shouldn’t surprise Kokomo area residents. An average winter brings 37.8 inches to the area. But the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis told us Wednesday we’re approaching 60 inches of snow for the season — 5 feet — and that’s not counting yesterday’s snowfall.
It’s critical local people support the merchants who help this community thrive throughout the year. Some were displaced in November by tornadoes, and many were closed several days in January because of unusually cold temperatures, heavy snow and icy roads.
One way to make sure your dollars have the biggest impact is to keep them right here in your community.
Shop in the businesses that pay dues to the local chambers of commerce and civic organizations, buy sponsorships for local athletic teams and tickets to the chicken noodle dinners at our churches.
It’s tempting, we know, to pack up the family and drive to Carmel or Indianapolis, and these days, it’s also tempting to just stay in your living room and fire up your computer, shopping for bargains on the Internet.
It’s important to remember, though, those Internet retailers won’t be paying taxes in Howard County. That store at the Fashion Mall won’t be providing a job to your neighbor down the street.
Local businesses do that. They pay the taxes that keep the lights on in our schools and pave our streets. And they write the paychecks that buy groceries and make house payments in households throughout the county.
Local merchants are our friends and neighbors. They serve beside us on local boards and commissions. They volunteer as Scoutmasters and Little League coaches. They buy ads in the school yearbook, and they make contributions to local charities.
They can continue to do these things only if they have customers putting money into their cash registers.
Especially now, at a time when finances everywhere are tight, supporting those local merchants simply makes sense.