The Christmas season kicked off even earlier this year. It seems that stores have had Yule decorations since Halloween, Christmas movies are already playing on TV, some of the local Christmas parades have been held and holiday music has been heard on some radio stations for nearly a month.
To traditionalists, the holiday season officially starts this weekend and to merchants, the day after Thanksgiving - Black Friday - and the subsequent weekend can either make or break their holiday shopping season. The November-December gift-buying frenzy can account for half of merchants' total annual sales.
The struggling economy forced cutbacks last Christmas, and this year it is expected to be even worse.
Even though times are tough and most of us are tightening our belts, try to keep your local merchants in mind for those dollars you do plan to spend. Our local merchants are there throughout the year donating to local projects and charities and supporting our schools and local youth sports teams. They also pay local taxes to fund our government services and most importantly they provide jobs - a very precious commodity in our failing economy.
So, while we're not encouraging you to spend money you don't have, when planning your holiday budget, try to keep your dollars local. It may be easier to turn on the computer and get out the credit card, but we'll all benefit more if you spend your money here.