NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore was published in the Nov. 13, 2020 Bloomington Herald-Times.
During the Longest Year Ever, the holidays are nearly upon us.
Your gift-giving this year takes on an even more meaningful role, as many local businesses are struggling from the pandemic’s impact. And while the sentiment of “Buy Local” is important year-round, it’s even more so during the holiday season. Retailers in particular make the bulk of their profits during the fourth quarter and rely on robust sales now to stay in business the rest of the year.
Consumer optimism is rising, which is a good sign. According to the October U.S. Consumer Sentiment Index, Americans are growing more optimistic about the economy than at any point since the pandemic began, but their optimism is still below levels reported at the start of 2020.
There is cautious optimism locally, too. But that’s tempered with the early exodus of Indiana University students, as classes end before Thanksgiving and won’t start up again in person until February.
So as you plan your holiday gift-giving this year, please consider spending your gift dollars locally.
Why does that matter? According to the research firm Civic Economics, for every $100 spent at a local merchant, $68 is reinvested locally through wages, taxes, supplies and other services.
What’s more, local businesses provide jobs to our neighbors, support our nonprofits, and help create the special community that we cherish.
Need more reasons? Buying local helps our environment, with less packaging and transportation, which helps reduce our carbon footprint. It helps your wallet, with no need to pay for shipping costs. It helps support entrepreneurs, artists and craftspeople, who directly benefit when you support their work.
We’re doing our part. The Chamber is creating an online Holiday Gift Guide featuring dozens of suggestions for how to support local businesses and nonprofits in our community. We hope to make it easier for you to spend your holiday dollars close to home, supporting our local economy while you’re at it.
Need a gift for your kid’s teacher? How about an unusual find for that friend who has everything? Maybe you’ve got a foodie on your list who’d appreciate a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Or a gearhead who’d like to get their car detailed. Or a fashionista who’s always ready to shop at one of our area’s distinctive boutiques.
For the pet lovers, cocktail aficionados, sportsball enthusiasts, fitness nuts, kids and kids at heart – we’ve got you covered.
For IU students and others on your list who miss Bloomington, we’ll have a “Bringing Home a Bit of Bloomington” category with ideas for unique-to-here gifts. We’re also including a list of ideas to pamper yourself because we could all use a personal treat after the stress of this year.
And because sometimes the best gift you can make is a donation in honor of your friends and family, our guide will provide a list of local nonprofits that help those in need.
Our Holiday Gift Guide is launching later this month at www.chamberbloomington.org/gift-guide. We’d also encourage you to check out the Bloomington Brick + Mortar guide on Facebook, and Visit Bloomington’s shopping guide at https://www.visitbloomington.com/things-to-do/shopping/.
However you decide to spend your holiday dollars, we hope you take the Buy Local sentiment to heart and find ways to support our community during this challenging time.
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