An Unusual Christmas Shopping Season

The dishes have been cleared and the leftover turkey is packed away. For many Americans, that can only mean one thing: It’s time to shop. The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Supposedly, Black Friday is the day retailers begin to turn a profit and their books are “in the black.” I don’t know if that’s true, but the day after Thanksgiving certainly is the beginning of the Christmas shopping spree for many families. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 20% of annual sales occur during between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Over the years, many of us have watched with some concern as big box stores and mass merchandisers squeezed Mom-and-Pop stores. That trend has only been made worse by the rise of internet-based sellers. Again quoting National Retail Federation stats, ecommerce accounted for one-fifth of holiday sales in 2019. In fact, “Cyber Monday” now rivals Black Friday as the No. 1 sales day of the entire year. With COVID-19 keeping folks at home, the share of sales occurring online will likely be even higher this year.
There’s no denying that consumers benefit from the competitive pricing and wide selection offered by online sellers. There are unseen costs, though.
A vibrant retail environment is necessary for a healthy community. The “OPEN” sign on a downtown storefront means jobs in the community. When those businesses are replaced by a faraway distribution center and a package in the mailbox, the impacts ripple through town as displaced workers compete for fewer and fewer jobs. It doesn’t end there. Often it is local merchants who support community arts, little league ball teams and the fund-raising drives at schools and churches. Without those benefactors, there’s less money to make these critical programs and projects possible. The loss of local business also means less tax revenue for local communities, and essential services suffer as a result.
I understand Christmas shopping season will not be the same this year. Due to COVID-19, many consumers will shop online out of safety concerns as much as convenience. Still, I hope all of us make an effort to keep our holiday shopping close to home. I believe our local merchants need us more than ever this year. They’ve struggled through the shutdowns, social distancing and capacity restrictions. The last thing they need is for us to stay home during the Christmas shopping season. All the merchants I know are taking steps to disinfect their stores and make shopping safe. Please give them a chance. Take proper precautions, but shop in-person when you can. I know they’ll appreciate the business, and their employees will benefit as well.
This is also a good time to remember that many of our friends and neighbors have lost jobs or seen their income fall this year. Let’s all give generously to local churches and community support organizations. The need is great and anything we can share will be helpful.
As I look forward to the coming holidays I remember what we were told as the pandemic first arrived on our shores: “We’ll get through this together.” Now is a time we can all do our part. We can help each other get through this. Support your local merchants and help those in need.
Extra Session Continues
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, I will return to Jefferson City to take part in an extra legislative session called by the governor. We have been asked to pass a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021. This additional spending authority will allow Missouri to take advantage of coronavirus relief programs paid for with federal dollars. The $1.2 billion supplemental budget includes money for K-12 education, school lunch programs, unemployment assistance, PPE for essential workers, family support grants and other programs related to the COVID-19 emergency. The budget the governor requested also includes $2 million to fund the witness protection fund created by the Legislature earlier this year. While we’re at the Capitol, the governor has also asked us to enact COVID-19 liability protections for hospitals, first responders, schools and businesses.
It is my great honor to represent the citizens of the 33rd Senatorial District. Although the Legislature has adjourned for 2020, I remain your senator throughout the year. If there’s anything that I can do to assist you, please feel free to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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