Sunday, November 27, 2011

The thundering herd of shoppers

It is Thanksgiving weekend, and that can only mean one thing: the race to buy Christmas gifts is under way. In some ways this is an exciting time of year, but it can also be a little disillusioning.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday in many ways, but more and more, there is a rush to get it over with so the focus on Christmas commercialism can begin.

If somebody would dare deny this, he should simply take a peek at the contents of his mailbox in the coming days. It will be stuffed with mailings from businesses wanting us to spend our dollars with them. This does not include the advertising that pelts us from television, radio, newspapers and the Internet wanting our business.

Companies will try every trick in the book to pry their way into our bank accounts.

The last few weeks of the year make or break many businesses. During regular times this is true, but our nation’s economic struggles only intensify this fact. The economy is stagnant at best, and unemployment continues to be a thorn in the side for many.

The national and state unemployment rate remains round nine percent, but the ‘under-employment’ rate is probably closer to 16 or 17 percent. In addition to the unemployed, the underemployment rate includes people who either have been unemployed so long that they no longer draw benefits or people who have had to settle for part-time jobs.

The bottom line is a lot of people are not coming close to working at full capacity. They have so much to offer, but no place to deliver their skills. Because of this, money is scarce and people are going to be very choosey about where they spend it.

Even for those who are prospering now, the decision regarding where to spend money is a big one. I certainly hope most people will make every opportunity to spend here locally.

I know the larger cities just up the interstate are tempting. Murfreesboro is not far away and that city has exploded in size in recent years. Though that city has a lot to offer, it can be a hassle to drive in during this time of year.

The road system there has not kept up with the growth of the city. This means a Saturday afternoon or evening there can rival Nashville during rush hour when it comes to driving.

Because of this, shopping locally can be quite attractive. We can save money on gas and meals by not going to those other cities.

Gas prices will continue above three dollars a gallon through the rest of the year. Even if a person makes a couple of trips to Murfreesboro or Nashville to shop, the cost of travelling there adds up quickly.

Additionally, sales tax is a primary form of revenue generation for our local governments. While a provocative debate can be had regarding whether the sales tax is a fair tax on the poor, it remains a powerful force.

As the cliché goes, money spent here will stay here. In a time of economic strife, doesn't it make sense to serve ourselves before going elsewhere? This seems like a no-brainer, but common sense can vary from person to person.

Please keep in mind that it is understood that we cannot purchase all we want or need here locally. Coffee County has not cornered the market when it comes to goods and services.

The point is that it is more important than ever to spend our money here locally.

Money is a primary way our community remains strong. If we do not shop here, we are just making somebody else strong.

No comments: