THE ISSUE: The Christmas shopping season.
OUR VIEW: The way to make sure your dollars have the greatest impact is to spend them locally.
Lots of folks started shopping over the weekend, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season.
It seems only appropriate then to offer a suggestion: Shop Kokomo first.
It’s critical local people support the merchants who help this community thrive throughout the year. Shop in the businesses that pay dues to the local chamber of commerce and civic organizations and buy sponsorships for local athletic teams and tickets to the chicken noodle dinner at church.
Holiday spending this year is forecast to rise 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s slightly below the 5.6 percent gain retailers enjoyed a year ago.
Experts say a big chunk of that was spent this past weekend. Last year, consumers spent $52.4 billion during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, up from $45 billion in 2010.
This is a critical time of year for the folks who make their living in the retail industry. How their stores do in the next few weeks could well make or break the whole year.
Experts are predicting shoppers this year will be looking even harder for bargains, trying to stretch their available dollars as far as they can.
One way to make sure your dollars have the biggest impact is to keep them right here in your community.
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.