When it comes to holiday shopping, think small

Frances Padilla

Small Business Saturday has become an American tradition following the Thanksgiving holiday. Brick-and-mortar businesses promote their best deals of the year in hopes of luring shoppers from online purchases.

It was not so long ago Americans visited locally-owned small retailers to purchase their gifts. Business owners decorated their shops with lights and ornaments or created elaborate window displays to grab the imaginations of passersby. The holiday shopping season was a magical time of year, and many of us hold on to those memories today.

Given dramatic shifts in the retail environment over the last 20 years, those holiday scenes and traditions are in danger of passing into the realm of nostalgic folklore. Recent surveys show more than 80 percent of Americans make regular online purchases. Many locally owned businesses struggle to find new ways to compete with online shopping sites. To better compete, small business owners have become innovative in the ways they sell and promote their products and services. Some have brought back the retail tradition by providing personalized one-on-one assistance and selling niche items found nowhere else in town.

Although online merchants have forced many retailers to close their doors, small business remains a job creator in most communities. In Colorado, 631,000 small businesses generate two of every three net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services. Small businesses employ more than 1.1 million Coloradans and make this state a better place to live.

As the voice of American entrepreneurs, the U.S. Small Business Administration celebrates the nation’s 30 million small businesses that ignite our local economies and enrich our communities throughout the year.

In 2018, Small Business Saturday provided a huge boost to the overall U.S. economy when 104 million consumers shopped or dined small and generated nearly $18 billion in reported spending. With increased consumer confidence, this year’s Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30 looks to be even brighter.

American workers continued to see higher wages and paychecks over the last several quarters. In October, 128,000 jobs were created nationwide. At just 3.6 percent, the unemployment rate remains at its lowest point in nearly 50 years. This translates into great news for small retailers and restaurants across the country because consumer spending during the holidays is expected to remain strong at 2.9 percent.

Economic prosperity is good news not only for America’s small businesses,  but also for society as a whole. In so many ways, small businesses act as the glue that holds communities together. Small businesses fund the local tax base, finance charitable organizations and create good jobs. By backing our locally owned small businesses, you support the thousands of jobs they create and families they sustain. Small businesses are the backbone of our democracy and the solution to our most pressing economic problems.

On Small Business Saturday, join us making purchases from a locally owned small business. These business owners are the true heroes of our community and deserve our appreciation.

Dan Nordberg serves as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Region VIII, which includes Colorado. Frances Padilla serves as SBA Colorado district director. Nordberg and Padilla work out of Denver.