This year, more than ever, let's shop local for the holidays
At the height of the pandemic, Walmart doubled its online sales for the second quarter (April through June) compared to last year. Its stores, which do far more business than the online operation, were having a banner year, too, with companywide sales up 10 percent in the second quarter. Those extra sales add up to new profits of $1 billion a month.
Here's some perspective: The city of Cleveland Heights, with an annual budget of $45 million, could operate for a year and then some on the extra pandemic profit Walmart made this Monday and half of Tuesday.
And that's just Walmart. At Target, second-quarter sales were up nearly 11 percent, and online sales tripled the total from the same time in 2019.
Sales at Home Depot were up more than 23 percent; at Lowes, just over 34 percent.
Amazon’s sales jumped 40 percent, for a three-month profit of $5.2 billion—doubling last year's second-quarter profits.
And we haven’t even gotten to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the whole month of December.
Not everybody is having the same recession.
It’s easy to justify shopping online during a pandemic. But Amazon and the big boxes don’t need your money.
You know who does? The people who have set up shop in our own community.
The people who own these shops have invested their life savings to create businesses designed to serve us—the people of Cleveland Heights, University Heights and nearby communities.
They’ve chosen to locate their businesses here, pay local taxes, support local causes, and participate in local events and traditions. They’ve assembled products and services to meet our local tastes and interests. Many of them sell stuff you can’t get just anywhere, and when they ring up your purchase, they look you in the eye and say “Thank you"—and you know they mean it.
So for the holidays this year, please shop locally. Buy your gifts from people who care at least as much about this community as you do. Instead of tossing an extra $50 onto an Amazon gift card, spend it at a local store, where it could mean the difference between an average week and a good one.
If you do your holiday shopping with local merchants, they’ll notice.
When people talk about the good life in the Heights, one of the selling points is our collection of business districts populated by interesting shops, restaurants and bars.
The big boxes are here to stay, but you can't say the same for small businesses. Even in good times, independent businesses have an uphill battle to survive among the multi-national retailers. If you like the character these businesses add to the community, you can vote to keep them by putting on your mask, walking in the front door, and making a purchase. Now. When it matters most.
Here’s wishing all of us a happy, healthy holiday season filled with the spirit of community and fellowship.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.