Ben Homeyer 

Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is always a chance for us to support the local businesses that support our communities, and that’s especially right now. 

South Carolina’s economy was strong at the beginning of the year, but that was before the pandemic. With the arrival of COVID-19, people stopped going out, and businesses from the coast to the mountains had to change how they did things. They had to limit the number of people they let through the door at any given time, and they added features like curbside pickup.

Some shops and restaurants closed temporarily only to discover later they had closed for good. 

That’s why supporting local shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday – and throughout the holiday season – is important. 

Small business is the heart and soul of South Carolina’s economy, accounting for 99.4% of all businesses in the state, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  

When my group, the National Federation of Independent Business, surveyed its members last month, most believed the local economy would rebound to pre-crisis levels sometime in 2021, but nearly one-third worried things wouldn’t get back to normal until 2022 or later. 

And when we asked how long they thought they could keep going under current economic conditions, 19% said seven months to a year, while 15% said three to six months and 3% said they might have to close in a month or two. 

We can’t let that happen.  

Small businesses employ about 44% of the South Carolina’s private workforce, and while we hear about big companies adding a few hundred jobs here and there, South Carolina’s small businesses created over 44,000 jobs statewide in 2019, according to the SBA. 

South Carolina needs its small businesses, and small businesses need you. While we wait on Congress to approve additional financial assistance to help small businesses make it through this crisis, there are things you and I can do to help local businesses survive: 

If you’re able to shop in person, shop local and shop small. Remember: Small businesses may offer merchandise and deals – and a level of service – that you won’t find at the chain stores or shopping malls. 

If you’re unable to or wary of shopping in person, shop online or phone in your order. Take advantage of curbside pickup, where they’ll bring your order out to the car. 

With fewer people eating out, more restaurants are offering curbside pickup and delivery. Help them by ordering pickup or delivery, or buy gift cards or certificates you can use once the pandemic is under control and things get back to normal. 

I believe we should do everything we can to support our small businesses. Small businesses are determined to get through this, and they’re ready to deliver the goods and services their customers need while following the rules and keeping everyone as safe and secure as possible. 

Supporting local shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season and beyond will lessen the impact this outbreak is having on our communities.

It will help save jobs and make the local economy stronger, and that’s important because when we help small businesses, we help everybody.  

Ben Homeyer is the South Carolina director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

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