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Give the gift of shopping local this holiday season

“People are shopping locally and they’re supporting the local economy,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said recently. “That’s great news.”

In October, city officials announced another month of sales tax collections that were higher than the same month in 2019. During the reporting, officials said that in the month of August the city collected $14,241 more than it did in August 2019.

So far this year, when the local economy was brought to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government-forced restrictions, sales tax collections are only slightly lower than last year and the city has seen a steady increase in recent months as the local economy has roared back to life.

Recent reports have shown sales tax collections higher than the same months in 2019 and it is not out of the realm of possibility that, in the end, sales tax collections in 2020 will outpace 2019.

There has been no magic bullet to making this happen. When the economy was shut down, people began moving their shopping habits online. UPS and FedEx trucks became regulars in many neighborhoods and local postal carriers saw packages reach Christmastime levels.

But, as the restrictions began to ease, residents who still felt uncomfortable traveling too far away from home turned to local merchants. Local grocery and hardware stores became the main beneficiaries as more people turned to eat at home and those long-planned home improvement projects became the perfect pastime for those quarantined at home.

As the holidays quickly approach, the months of shopping local hopefully have created a habit for local residents. So much so that local retailers — the family-owned stores — can see the 2020 rollercoaster end on a very high note.

Every year, we urge and plead with residents to shop local, to focus on local establishments and do what they can to support our local business owners. Never before has our plea been as passionate as this year.

Let us end 2020 on something positive. Let us show up and show out for our friends and neighbors by shopping local and making this holiday shopping season one to truly remember.