The most critical shopping season is upon us

The most critical shopping season is upon us

'Tis the season for shopping, and one organization is urging people to spend their coins to help small businesses stay afloat.

Just as the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday, the Saturday following the national holiday is Small Business Saturday. And as Karen Kerrigan of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council tells AFN, after surviving COVID-19, this could end up being the last year many retailers are in businesses.

Kerrigan, Karen (SBE Council) Kerrigan

"I am hearing from businesses that this could be their last year," she relays. "It's the inflation and economic uncertainty that could get them; it's these tough economic challenges that eventually may cause them to close their doors."

Kerrigan says this is one of the most critical shopping seasons that she can remember. While she understands that people would turn to Big Box stores to save on various items, she points out that most of the money spent at a small business stays local.

"It's invested back into the community," she says. "It's important for jobs; it's important for the vitality of local communities. So without small businesses, you really don't have a local economy."

The SBE Council spokeswoman explains that most local economies are driven by small businesses. So even though it has been a tough year for everybody, "if customers can step up this time, this holiday season, for small businesses, it's really going to make a huge difference," she tells AFN.

"It's vitally important that people support their local businesses," Kerrigan reiterates.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) agrees and also encourages shoppers to make it a point to buy American-made products. In fact, her organization has constructed a gift guide to help them do just that.

Brotherton-Bunch, Elizabeth (AAM) Brotherton-Bunch

"The guide is chock-full of really good gift items, an eclectic range of stuff from toys to jewelry to stuff for your kitchen," she details. "This year we have a seat cover for your car, we have some cleaner for all of your screens – so like your computer screens and your iPad screens. We have a wide range of stuff and a very wide range of price points as well, so we think there's something for everyone on your list."

Brotherton-Bunch makes note of a COVID-era example of how American companies stepped up to help with mask production after China banned the export of personal protective equipment.

"We were kind of stuck, and it was American clothing manufacturering companies like American Giant and American Roots … who stepped up and started quickly switching their production lines from making sweatshirts and hoodies and things like that to making face masks," she recalls.

The Made in America Holiday Gift Guide is grouped by state and can be searched by category.