Holiday shoppers will be out in full force today, taking advantage of Black Friday sales and Juneau's annual Public Market in a mix of national and local shopping traditions. Business owners are cautiously optimistic that this year will fare better than last, when Juneau first began feeling the pinch of a nation-wide recession.
Many of our local businesses are still on the mend following a below-average tourism season, and are counting on a strong holiday season to make up for it. Juneau by itself can do little to cure the nation's ailing economy, but our community can be supportive of local businesses and mindful of where they're making purchases for the next 28 days.
As consumers cut back on spending, it becomes that much more important to support local business - whether it be family or corporate owned. This is especially true when it comes to the busiest shopping season of the year.
Many retailers are offering deals to lure shoppers. On top of that, the Public Market offers unique and locally made gifts that can't be found anywhere else. It shouldn't be too hard to find something in town for everybody on your list, without the hassle of waiting days or even weeks for packages to arrive in the mail.
A lot of great deals can be found shopping online. Not many people would readily argue that point. But going straight to the Web for holiday shopping will do little to support the economic viability of the stores Juneau residents count on the remaining 11 months of the year. Before searching online, try searching your local stores and the Public Market. The money you spend will do more than just buy gifts; it will help strengthen the businesses we rely on for employment opportunities and economic growth.
Equally important is the sense of community and closeness when families head out together for holiday shopping, whether it's stopping by the mall for a photo with Santa, perusing downtown storefront decorations or simply relishing the challenge of hunting down the perfect gift.
It's expected more than 90 percent of consumers will spend less money this year on gifts than in 2008, according to experts - a bad omen for business. But even if that statistic holds true for Juneau, an increased effort to buy locally will help make up the difference.