From today's Contra Costa Times, Joe "FlyCoJoe" Field offers some thoughts about how your holiday shopping impacts our local community.
The ongoing state budget crisis bleeds over into county and municipal budget cuts, with threats of school closures and service reductions leading the news almost every day in these trying economic times.
The season of giving and shopping continues with Black Friday and its $42 billion gross sales having come and gone. An estimated 95 million Americans bought something online Cyber Monday with a dollar total of nearly $1 billion.
How do our local and state budget problems connect to big-box and online shopping? To begin with, non-taxed cyber-sales mean a loss of state and local tax revenue. Bringing that home, that means a loss of revenue to fund fire departments, road repairs, schools and libraries.
Sales at big box retailers and online also impact our community in many other ways:
* Studies have shown that for every dollar spent at a big chain store such as Wal-Mart, only 13 cents of that dollar gets put back into the local economy. Spending the same dollar at a locally owned business re-circulates 45 cents into the local economy.
* The entrepreneurial spirit of local business owners drives America’s economic innovation and prosperity, creating a key way for families to move out of low wage jobs and into the middle class.
* Local businesses put less of a demand on our roads, sewers and public services and generate more tax revenue per sales dollar helping local and state budgets.
* Locally owned businesses also are more likely the customers of local printers, wholesalers, attorneys and other service businesses, helping to expand the local entrepreneurial spirit while adding even more to local and state tax coffers.
* Locally owned businesses donate twice as much per dollar to local non-profits, charities and events than huge retail corporations.
* Independently owned businesses, catering to a wide variety of customers’ tastes and interests create greater consumer choices for all of us.
* Local businesses give our community character and are the ultimate “social networking sites.”
* Local businesses are more eco-friendly since they are “people-sized” not corporate-sized. Local businesses consume less land, create less traffic and air pollution while being closer to residents.
* A diverse business climate market of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and broader consumer choices over the long-term.
In short, there is a high local cost for those who only shop for a low price. Imagine the huge impact if everyone started by shifting just 25% of our spending away from large corporate-owned chain stores and online merchants and instead spent that money locally. It would begin a positive trend of good news for everyone.