November 11, 2018
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A Case For Shopping Local This Holiday Season

Peter Franchot
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December 6, 2017

It might be hard to believe, but the 2017 holiday season is upon us. Whether you do most of your shopping early or you’re a procrastinator, time is running short to cross everything off your wish lists.

In my opinion, there’s no better place to do that than at your local independent retailer. They carry unique gifts, offer top-notch customer service and often charge less than their bigger competitors.

Each year, my staff and I visit local businesses throughout the state on my annual Shop Maryland for the Holidays tour to encourage Marylanders to shop locally instead of online or at out-of-state businesses. I kicked off this year’s tour at the largest independent bookstore in the Baltimore area — Greetings & Readings at the Hunt Valley Towne Centre — and then recognized the 15th anniversary of Charm City Run, which now boasts eight stores statewide.

We’ve also visited local shops in Bethesda, Hyattsville, Frederick, Berlin, Cambridge and St. Michaels, among others. Each of these visits has reassured me that Maryland has some of the best small businesses in the country.

However, these stores are in constant survival mode, competing with larger retailers and online vendors that offer the convenience of delivering to your front door.

In September, the Board of Revenue Estimates, of which I am chairman, showed in its latest projections that sales tax revenue declined this past spring following a very brief but relatively successful holiday season last year. This verifies how much our local gift shops, toy stores, boutiques, restaurants, bakeries and coffeehouses depend on holiday revenue to stay afloat.

Shopping in local communities also keeps revenue in the state and supports the hardworking Maryland employees at your local malls and other retailers. That’s important because more than a half-million Marylanders work in retail throughout the state — that’s one out of every five residents!

And the retail sector significantly contributes to the state’s economy, bringing in more than $46 billion, making it the top generating private sector category.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent this year, up from $655.8 billion last year. Wouldn’t it be great if most of this year’s presents were purchased, or better yet, made in Maryland? Imagine what a difference that would make to your hometown shops.

In this consumer-powered economy, far too many businesses – and in particular, small and locally owned businesses that are the backbone of the Maryland economy — are struggling to survive at a time when consumers are reining in their discretionary spending. Families who have discretionary spending will do the most good for our great state by spending that money locally this holiday season.

I want to wish you and your families an excellent end to this holiday season. I’ll be gearing up soon for the start of another tax season and the start of the General Assembly session, but for now I’m going to relax with my family during the holidays. And when I shop, it will be local!

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