Buy local, keep cash in community

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut knows that you'll be busy with holiday plans, including holiday shopping over the next few weeks. While you're checking off your holiday gift list, please keep in mind the benefits of "Buy Local."

When you buy goods and services from merchants located in eastern Connecticut, the money you spend stays in our community. Those dollars support the essential services that we all rely on, including the police departments, fire departments, parks and more. In addition, schools and community programs are supported in this way.

Local shops are owned and run by your neighbors. Their children go to school with your children. They pay taxes and contribute to the quality of life in our communities. From Niantic to Pawcatuck, New London to Canterbury, there's an abundance of local shops hoping to help you check off that holiday list.

Traditionally, Black Friday has marked the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. This year, some chains including Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, Best Buy and Kohl's have adopted the "why wait" strategy and are opening early on Thanksgiving Day itself.

Last year on Black Friday, American shoppers each spent on average $423 over the weekend, up from $398 in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Total spending over the four-day weekend last year reached a record $59.1 billion, a 13 percent increase from 2011.

The NRF predicts 140 million people will shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend this year, in person and online, beginning on the holiday itself. The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut wants to remind those holiday shoppers that it has more than 1,600 locally owned member businesses offering everything on your holiday wish list.

Shopping at our local businesses is something we can all do to help grow our local economy. Your support will allow our local business owners to remain strong. While you're at it, start your day with a great breakfast at a local diner, revive yourself with a terrific lunch at a local café and celebrate a successful day of bargain hunting with a drink at a local pub. Buy local, shop chamber, be safe and have a wonderful holiday season.

Tony Sheridan is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

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