DENNIS SEID: ‘Shop local’ puts focus on buying at home

DENNIS SEID

DENNIS SEID

It’s a big week in retail. Sure, it’s Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday. And in between is Small Business Saturday, or Shop Local Saturday, depending on what you prefer to call it.

Three years ago, American Express started the Saturday promotion to get more shoppers into local small businesses. And the company wasn’t doing it for its health; the campaign also benefited them.

But you get the idea: In between all the shopping at the big-box stores and online buying, don’t forget the mom-and-pop, independent shops.

It’s a great idea. And there’s a local push this year, too.

Last week, Small Business Saturday North Mississippi launched, with the intent to get small businesses in the region to post their specials, sales, etc. for the big shopping day.

Lisa Hawkins, owner of Room to Room, is a big supporter of the campaign, which has a Facebook page.

“Local stores are what drive our communities,” she said. “Local owners support school programs, give back to local groups, volunteer in their communities. … they’re what make north Mississippi what it is.”

She added, “There are a lot of small businesses in the mall, in downtowns and all across the cites and counties that we hope this helps. We’re helping one another.”

The idea has generated some discussion on my Biz Buzz blog where I first posted the story the “shop local” campaign here, and what “local” means.

Does the term apply only to independents? Should it exclude national brands?

I should make it clear that Hawkins never said people should avoid shopping the mall or chain stores. She acknowledged that many branded stores – and restaurants – also have local owners and managers.

The main intent of the shop local campaign is for people to shop at “home,” wherever home may be, as much as possible. Much like the American Express campaign.

Don’t forget those small shops while you’re at the malls and big-box stores, in other words.

Also, remember that shopping online does nothing for the local economy, whether you’re in Tupelo, Corinth, Amory, Ripley or Oxford.

Face it, we can’t avoid Walmart, Toys R Us or Best Buy forever. But there are plenty of businesses owned and/or run by folks like you and me who can and do offer the products and services we want and need.

Other notes

Some other notes from a retail industry conference call I participated in this week revealed some interesting info about the upcoming shopping frenzy:

• Despite all the Thanksgiving Day store openings and the earlier shopping deals, Black Friday remains the biggest shopping day of the year.

Last year, Black Friday sales hit $11 billion. In contrast, Thanksgiving Day sales were “only” $2.8 billion. That’s still a lot of money changing hands. And Black Friday won’t be relinquishing its crown anytime soon.

• Foot traffic at retailers this week is expected to drop about 1.4 percent, yet sales should increase about 2.4 percent. So, people are making fewer shopping trips, but buying more when they do hit the stores.

Happy Thanksgiving. Shop till you drop.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com