OPINION: The U.S. Small Business Administration urges you to do your shopping close to home.

COURTESY PHOTO - Jeremy FieldIt's no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has made a huge impact on how Oregon retailers and restaurants operate. With additional restrictions implemented at the start of the holiday season as cases surge, it's another challenge for local small businesses.

But that's where we as a community can step in. Small retailers and restaurants are relying on us to send a message with our dollars that says, "We've got your back." And in 2020, this support is needed more than ever.

Approximately 62% of small businesses have reported they need to see consumer spending return to pre-COVID levels by the end of this year. While limited store capacity and social distancing might prevent us from going in crowds to visit our favorite local small retailers on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, there are still ways we can #ShopSmall throughout the entire holiday season:

ORDER ONLINE — Many businesses have implemented online shopping. Check business websites to see what options are available.

CURBSIDE PICKUP — Call in purchases or order online to pick up gifts curbside to eliminate the need to go into a store.

GIFT CARDS — These are an easy and popular way to support a local small business and please the people on your shopping list. This can include coffee shops, boutiques, personal services, restaurants and other local businesses.

START EARLY — With possible delays in shipping and inventory, start your shopping earlier this year to make sure gifts arrive in time.

ALLOW EXTRA TIME — If you opt to mask up and visit your local businesses to purchase gifts, plan for extra time, as stores need to limit the number of guests inside for in-person visits.

ORDER TAKEOUT — Enjoy food from your favorite eateries with a pickup or delivery order. You can even consider catering for small household holiday gatherings.

CONTACT STORES, CHAMBERS AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS — Many local businesses and associations have designed creative ways to shop small this holiday season. Contact them directly to learn local ways you can participate.

Last year, Small Business Saturday spending hit a record high of $19.6 billion from an estimated 110 million shoppers nationwide. Our holiday spending — at whatever level our budget can afford this year — collectively makes a difference.

In 2020, every gift purchased from a small retailer or local restaurant has three beneficiaries: the gift recipient, the small business, and our local community.

Join me in shopping small this holiday season. Our local small businesses are depending on us more than ever.

Jeremy Field is regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Pacific Northwest Region, which serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

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