Sharon Miller: Small business matters -- Three big reasons to shop small for the holidays this year

Small business owners are invested in the future of our towns and cities.

The holiday season is always a busy time of year. On top of the usual work and personal commitments, there’s an uptick in travel, parties and of course, shopping.

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For many, we find ourselves in a time crunch to pick the perfect gift for our loved ones as we consider an overwhelming number of stores and online retailers, all offering the latest toys and hottest deals. But as we find ourselves in this season of holiday hustle and bustle, take a step back and look first at the small businesses in your neighborhood – where your dollars and support can make a big difference.

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This time of year is crucial for many small businesses. According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can account for nearly 30 percent of total annual sales for some businesses. While these businesses are categorized as small, their impact is huge — on jobs and economic vibrancy to be certain, but also in forging a sense of community and connection to others where you live.

Here’s how your support for small businesses this holiday season can pay off in three big ways:

1. Creating Jobs

Small businesses are crucial job providers. The SBA reports that small businesses create 1.5 million jobs annually and account for 64 percent of new job creation across the country.

Our Bank of America fall 2019 Small Business Owner Snapshot report found that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of business owners nationwide have plans to hire over the next 12 months. Small businesses create new opportunities, employing individuals across the country—meaning every dollar you spend at a local business is an investment back into your own community.

2. Driving Economic Growth

When businesses in our communities succeed, we all reap the benefits. Through the creation of new jobs, small businesses put money in the pockets of their workers, and that money is circulated back into the community through spending and investment, creating a cycle of prosperity and bolstering the local economy.

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Our report found that 52 percent of business owners believe their local economy will improve in the year ahead. When people are confident in the economy and spending more, businesses perform well, wages increase and communities thrive. Plus, once this cycle is established in one community, it has the potential to ripple out to the surrounding area. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

3. Investing in Your Neighbors & Community

Beyond the economic arguments for shopping small—the job creation and reinvestment—there is a pride that comes with having a thriving Main Street.

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The small businesses in your neighborhood may be owned by your neighbors and friends, so when you choose to purchase from a small business locally, you are directly supporting the people in your community. 

To that end, when we asked business owners what they are looking forward to this holiday season, many pointed to the opportunity to give back to their communities.

Small business owners are invested in the future of our towns and cities. By choosing to shop with them this holiday season, we can show that we are invested in them as well.

One of the highlights of this season is the opportunity to spend time with friends and family—making new memories and reminiscing about the old. Taking advantage of local options for services and gifts around the holidays adds another more personal touch, helping to build new traditions for you and your loved ones to enjoy in the seasons to come.

By shopping small this holiday season, you’ll be supporting the businesses that not only serve as the backbone of our economy but are an essential part of our culture.

Sharon Miller is Head of Small Business, Bank of America.

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