- - Thursday, November 25, 2021

Americans looking to fill their holiday season with meaningful gifts may instead find themselves left with a bag of leftover Halloween candy as supply chain challenges continue to wreak havoc on the retail industry.

Some popular presents are in short supply, while shipping delays are widespread and openly expected throughout the holiday season. With the nation’s busiest shopping day of the year just days away, Americans need to look beyond the empty shelves of national chains and within their own small business communities for ways to celebrate the holiday season.

Thankfully, there are numerous small businesses here in the nation’s capital, ready to ensure that shoppers have plenty to unwrap throughout the holidays. The region is home to an abundance of restaurants, locally-owned boutiques, antique and consignment shops, and holiday craft markets. D.C.-area residents have many local options to find that perfect way to celebrate loved ones, friends, and coworkers.

The benefits of shopping local go far beyond just supporting your friendly neighborhood retailer - it also pumps a significant amount of cash back into the local economy. According to American Express, approximately 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business stays in the local community. After months of depressed business due to the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, local small businesses stand ready to ensure a festive holiday season for all parts of the economy.

Consumers who shop locally also benefit from avoiding substantial delays in goods reaching their doorsteps, as manufacturing bottlenecks and shipping challenges continue to haunt the nation’s retail industry. For example, delays on items arriving in the U.S. from China are averaging 72 days, meaning your gifts could arrive not only past Christmas but perhaps even long after Valentine’s Day.

Sold on the benefits of shopping locally, but not sure where to start? Groups like D.C. Shop Small, Made in D.C., Destination DC, and (shameless plug) BancAlliance have published comprehensive lists of great local businesses you can visit this season. Many local restaurants and music venues offer gift certificates.  What’s more? Small Business Saturday is right around the corner, with many businesses in the area offering specials and discounts to shoppers. Though this day has always been a great time for Americans to support small businesses after the frenzy of Black Friday, this year’s Small Business Saturday also provides an opportunity to drive much-needed sales for local companies still working to recover from the pandemic.

As news about the ongoing supply chain crisis continues to fill the airwaves, shopping local can ensure that those challenges don’t impact every aspect of the holiday season. Now more than ever, this is the time to buy local!

• Lori Bettinger is the President of BancAlliance.

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