Praise the Lord and swipe my debit card, the holiday season is upon us.
Indications are folks have shaken off the declarations of dread and doom from the election season. They are getting back to the business of shopping.
According to a survey by American Express and the National Federal of Independent Business, consumers spent $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving. That was better than expected and good news for the year-end economic engine.
On a store-to-customer level, business seems to be back. On a bigger level, questions remain as to whether major captains of industry are ready to fire up manufacturing again, or if anything will coax them out of their hibernation caves. Even the lure of tax cuts offered no certainty of action, especially if the much less affluent consumers are the ones buying the products.
Even the housing market, the biggest drag on the national economy, is showing signs of recovery. The Standard and Poors/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reports home prices have risen for six consecutive months, leading some analysts to report the national economic recovery is underway.
We may not be seeing housing starts in Monett, but we are hearing that local contractors can find work, especially in the Joplin area. With both the City of Monett and the Monett R-1 School District getting ready to award big construction contracts, local subcontractors will have more work, which still pays the bills for folks at home.
All these signs point toward a more prosperous Christmas season for local merchants. However, local merchants depend on local customers.
Travel through a town you haven't seen in six months and you're likely to see changes in storefronts, especially in the restaurant business. It's still tough going out there, even in Monett.
Don't take your local merchants for granted. As the spirit of giving moves you, give the merchants you see regularly a chance to fill your holiday stocking from their shelves. It may be a little thing, but an extra sale can help keep a store in business, being there when you really need the service.
Eighty years ago, the nation was going through some of the darkest hours of the Great Depression. Funds were running out. Any news that freight traffic on the Frisco Railroad was picking up brought cheers. As a first, The Monett Times started running ads about pulling together to keep the town afloat.
The times may not be as dire today, but the sentiment remains sound. Taking care of the hometown helps take care of you. Your neighbors will be grateful this holiday season.