The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest day of the five-day shopping period, with an estimated 165.3 million people likely to shop Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

On Black Friday alone, 114.6 million Americans are expected to head out to stores to take advantage of post-Thanksgiving shopping – and that’s after a projected 39.6 million people do some shopping on Thanksgiving Day. The extended holiday weekend also could see an estimated 66.6 million on Small Business Saturday and 33.3 million on Sunday. The shopping weekend will wrap up on Cyber Monday, when 68.7 million are expected to take advantage of online bargains.

“The tradition of Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping has become a five-day event with consumers spending money in stores, supporting local small businesses, and online with their mobile devices and computers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Even as people are starting to purchase gifts earlier in the season, consumers still enjoy finding good Thanksgiving deals and passing time shopping with family and friends over the long holiday weekend.”

Watching the national trends is a good opportunity for us to help control our destiny, so to speak, in Northeast Mississippi because it’s not just the large stores that need these next few days to be a success.

There was a time when shopping local, with independently owned, locally headquartered retailers was the dominant retail trade of the holiday season, but times and growth in chain companies shifted the dynamic. There’s nothing inherently wrong in shopping with what are called the “big box” stores. They employ a lot of local people, and those paychecks spend as well in our region’s economy as any other money.

The ultimate goal is not to avoid shopping at the big national stores, but to keep options open to include the local independents. Also, remember that shopping online does nothing for the local economy wherever you live.

Here are some facts provided from the Office of Advocacy’s Small Business 2019 Profiles that show the significant impact of local businesses in Mississippi:

• There are 257,404 small businesses in operation across Mississippi

• Those small businesses make up 99.3 percent of Mississippi businesses.

• Almost 47 percent of all employees in Mississippi work for a small business, while 10,719 new jobs have been created from small businesses alone.

Being big in the sense that some chain stores are big isn’t necessarily the best way or the preferred way for many people to shop.

The point is not to avoid shopping at the big national stores but to keep personal options open to include the local independents.

Every town has independents in some shape or form, and they can thrive because their products, service and helpfulness can match up in every way with the big, chain stores – when given an opportunity.

Remember that these small businesses are oftentimes the lifeblood of many cities, towns and communities.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind as you continue your holiday shopping is to make an effort to spend your dollars locally whenever possible.

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