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Shop local this holiday season

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The National Federation of Independent Businesses estimated that Small Business Saturday generated $5.5 billion in sales for America’s locally owned shops in 2012. It’s too early to know if the promotion for independent retailers matched or surpassed that mark this year. But judging from the recent buzz for supporting local economies, we’d say the odds are that 2013 will be a good one for small stores.

Shopping local makes a lot of sense every day of the year. Shop owners certainly hope a chunk of local money flows into their businesses between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

David Boyle, an author who focuses on economies and spending, has compared money to the flow of blood. When it circulates out of a community, it flows out like a wound, he’s said.

Economists who study the flow of money through locally owned businesses versus chain stores agree that money spent in local shops circulates longer in the local economy. In a study last year in Salt Lake City, researchers found that local retailers returned an average of 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, but chains returned just 14 percent of revenue to the local economy.

No one can be expected to spend every holiday dollar at home in a locally owned shop. The world is too mobile to expect a fully local economy, and many goods are available only in big-box stores or through online outlets. Shopping is sometimes part of an excursion or a mini-vacation. That’s fine. Small-business owners appreciate this fact of modern life as well as anyone. They also like to venture out. Many of them appreciate and understand the glitz of a big mall. But they’d also like an opportunity to show local shoppers what they do best, which is provide personal service, convenience and an atmosphere that cannot be duplicated.

The hoopla of Small Business Saturday is past, but the shops are still there. They are open and ready for business. Today and the next day and the next, give them a shot.