It seems the COVID-19 pandemic and the shifting retail landscape will change the holiday shopping season this year.

Many big boxes have announced weeks ago that they would not be open on Thanksgiving Day — a relief to many who had grown weary of the commercialism encroaching on a holiday meant for families to gather and give thanks. But replacing that one-day intrusion has been an almost-daily and even hourly bombardment of online “pre-Black Friday” sales.

That online shopping commotion and the traditional Black Friday sales the national chains plan for the day after Thanksgiving might be a little different this year, but they will go on and attract millions of shoppers and their hard-earned money. But we would encourage you shoppers — as we have in the past — to “think small” again this year.

As in Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 27 this year. The brainchild of American Express — yes, the multinational credit card corporation — this shopping “holiday” launched in 2010. It encouraged people to support small, local businesses, and the theme caught on with shoppers.

In 2011, the U.S. Senate officially recognized the day. In 2012, every state in the union championed Small Business Saturday.

By 2013, more than 1,450 communities became involved with individuals and local organizations pledging to support the day.

In 2014, an estimated $14.3 billion was spent at small, independent businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to American Express.

In 2015, 95 million people shopped at small businesses nationwide, according to American Express.

In 2019, the 10th annual Small Business Saturday, a record high $19.6 billion was reportedly spent.

Shopping at small, local businesses allows them to thrive, which in turn helps the entire community be more successful, according to the American Independent Business Alliance, or AMIBA. Money spent at local businesses such as shops and restaurants tends to stay in the community.

According to the Meeker County Development Corp., small businesses employ 70 percent of the county’s employees, and they pay taxes and spend money locally themselves.

While the Litchfield Chamber of Commerce isn’t planning any specific Small Business Saturday promotions, it does, of course, believe in supporting small businesses like those that dot Litchfield’s downtown and the area. The Chamber’s “Keep the Cheer Here” promotion encourages shopping local, which supports the local economy and offers the incentive of cash prizes for those who do. (See Page 1 for more information.)

A 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study commissioned by American Express found that for every dollar spent at a small business in the United States, about 67 cents stays in the local community.

The private research firm Civic Economics found that, on average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated, compared to less than 14 percent of that spent at chain stores. Similarly, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance conducted a study in several small communities in Maine in 2002 and found that every $100 spent at local independents generated $45 of secondary local spending.

An American Express Shop Small survey found that 56% of small businesses surveyed agree that Small Business Saturday is even more critical this year, and 78% said holiday sales will impact their ability to “keep their doors open in 2022.”

So this holiday season, remember your neighbors and fellow community members need your support. Shop local, and as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Meeker County, please also shop safe.