‘Tis the season for shopping and we all know what that means: over the river and through the woods to the shopping mall we go. The holiday season brings extraordinary levels of profit for big businesses, especially for the retail industry. In 2014, the retail stores raked in 616.1 billion dollars in November and December alone (nrf.com). That number is expected to increase to 79.4 billion dollars this year, a 13.9% increase (statista.com). These numbers are amazing, to say the least, but it leaves one wondering where does all that spent money go? Who really is reaping the profit?
According to a study done in Utah by Local First Utah, not much of the money earned by national chain retailers makes it back to local economies. Conversely, independent business return to local economies much more. The study showed that “in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Wayne County… locally owned retailers return 55.3% of their revenue to the local economy.” It compares that to national chain retailers who “return just 13.6% of revenue. That means every dollar spent at a locally owned, independent business returns more than four times more to the local economy than a dollar spent at a national chain retail” (localfirst.org). Shopping locally boosts our local economy. Daniel Houston from Civic Economics puts it this way: “The extra dollars in the local economy produce more jobs for residents, extra tax revenues for local governments, more investment in commercial and residential districts, and enhanced support for local nonprofits. In short, local businesses create better places” (localfirst.org).
So who’s going to reap the profit this holiday season? Of course it will be a time of booming sales for national retail chains, but we can also help boost our local economy by shifting more of our purchases to locally owned retailers and restaurants. The Local First Utah study concluded that “shifting just 10% of purchases from national chains to locally owned retailers and restaurants would keep $1.3 billion in the Utah economy” (localfirst.org).
Check out http://localfirst.org/buy-local/find-a-business for a list of local Utah businesses!!