With the turkey leftovers warming in the microwave, we are officially in the 2020 holiday season. We hope everyone experienced an enjoyable Thanksgiving filled with gratitude, even if the annual festivities felt surreal and were scaled back as a precaution to limit community spread of the coronavirus.
This holiday season looks a little different, but we can still share joy. And you can continue to support your favorite small businesses – both in-store and online in some cases – all holiday season long.
Each year since 2010, American Express has promoted something a marketing campaign called “Small Business Saturday” after each Black Friday. Today marks a decade of encouraging Americans to support our nation’s small retailers while we are holiday shopping. Small Business Saturday started as a reaction to the so-called “Great Recession” and is especially important as the country’s business owners continue to rebound from the impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting shutdowns earlier this year meant to slow the rate of new cases being diagnosed this past spring.
Today, we encourage you to keep our local businesses in mind and to support them with purchasing the gifts you want to put under your family’s tree. According to one study, 62% of U.S. small businesses reported that they need to see consumer spending return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 in order to stay in business, so your dollars will be vital to family-owned businesses run by your friends and neighbors. You really can make an impact this holiday season – and all year long.
Local business owners can more easily attract shoppers if they communicate through signage how they are cleaning and disinfecting stores and promoting practices like encouraging social distancing and providing hand sanitizer near the entrance, point of sale and restrooms.
Face coverings not only help to protect employees and customers but also demonstrate that their health and safety is a priority for a business. Providing frictionless experiences like online ordering and/or curbside pickup goes a long way too. Stores can also consider special time slots for seniors or at-risk guests to shop, along with expanded hours for busier holiday shopping days.
This is how the whole economy returns – when entrepreneurs get creative and ordinary people feel confident and excited to leave home to shop or dine. We all crave a return to normalcy, and hearing joyful Christmas music in a local store is one way to lift sentiments.
The value of small businesses in our community goes far beyond just the goods and services they provide. Please remember this when you decide whether to go shopping in another city/state or to buy online rather than in-store. Check vendors social media platforms as well as their advertising in this newspaper for information about their deals and special offers.
The next month will go a long way toward determining whether we get to celebrate Christmas together to a larger extent or continue to see new case numbers grow to the point where community leaders feel like they have to keep canceling and postponing more of the things we look forward to all year long.
We pray that the 2020 holiday season will be prosperous for retailers and lay the foundation for a brighter future that begins with the choices made today.
— Our View is the opinion of the Times-Journal’s editorial board, which includes Publisher Steven Stiefel and Managing Editor Emily Kirby.