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The holiday shopping season

With the holiday shopping season upon us there are a number of things we should be appreciative of, but also aware of. The Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance is proud of our members and the strength they bring to the area. Most goods and services we need are available within our region. In fact, from a retail standpoint, Fort Dodge has one of the top four pull factors as demonstrated by Iowa State University’s annual retail report, over the past 40 years and continues to be high in the area of 1.6 to 1.8.

While we are fortunate, we should remain mindful of certain things, especially with the new pressures to shop outside of our region. Shopping locally keeps more money in the local communities and precludes the loss of unnecessary leakage from our economy. In 2020, a civil economics study found that local retailers return approximately 50 percent of their revenue to the local economy and recirculate an average of 55.7 percent of their revenue locally. This is due to spending more on local labor, goods, good procured locally for sale, and services from local providers.

When shopping locally, you’ll get to know your local merchants and they’ll get to know you. Shopping small truly helps you feel more connected to your community. Shopping with local businesses doesn’t always mean boutiques. It can mean gift cards to restaurants, coffee shops and self-care services like massages and manicures.

Just as a primary sector company does, having a strong base of local retailers and restaurants provides job opportunities and in the United States today provides roughly two-thirds of private sector jobs.

A strong local business community makes it more likely to get national retailers to come to the community. Most corporate real estate teams and real estate brokers evaluate the health of a market by looking at the current real estate landscape, its pull factor as well as any significant leakage in the market. A healthy local economy with successful local retailers and restaurants makes it more likely that they’ll see opportunities in the community. That in itself makes it additionally easier to recruit a workforce and, ultimately, new primary sector manufacturing and service industry companies.

In some ways, e-commerce has contributed to less local retail interest except that recently local e-commerce is now making it easier to shop locally and still shop online. With more and more local businesses investing in e-commerce and online ordering, it’s easier than ever to purchase things locally while still being able to shop online. Most local stores now have options for buying or ordering online and picking up locally. Many retailers are starting to deliver and ship locally as well, so you can find many of the retail items you might purchase on Amazon or from large online sellers from local stores.

In any case, please remember during the holiday season that most retailers have from 50 percent to 60 percent of their annual sales during this period and a loss of sales can hurt local economies. Shop in the area and preserve and grow our local economy. We all work to bring new discretionary income into our region so please help to keep it here.

Dennis Plautz is the chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

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