GAINESVILLE - A local economist is encouraging holiday shoppers to take advantage of Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday.
Brenau University Economics Professor Dr. Fassil Fanta said on WDUN's Afternoon News Wrap that the sales impact our local economy.
"Last year, 88 million people shopped specifically at small businesses in local communities and spent about $14 billion," said Dr. Fanta. "So I would expect a little bit higher expenditures at small businesses, and I think it's a very good idea to support our local community and our neighbors and small businesses."
Small Business saturday, often referred to as "Shop Small" was started by American Express in November 2010, Fanta said.
"This is something that small businesses can benefit from, but that's not the only option they have," Fanta said. "This time of the year, especially with holiday shopping, most big retail stores may benefit, but small businesses can absolutely take advantage of like, having a huge crowd and being able to distribute their flyers and their products and services."
Fanta also said shopping days like Black Friday do make an impact.
"Consumer spending is a huge part of the U.S. economy, it's about 70 percent. So, consumer spending is a vital thing for North Georgia, and the economy in general. As you know, the economy is improving, economy growth is modest and consumer confidence is up and also, we're expecting cheaper gas prices, which allow, most particularly, lower-income people to spend more."
Fanta says all of those things, plus a lower unemployment rate, is boosting consumer confidence, which means more spending.
"Actually, we're expecting a little bit better than last year on consumer spending during this holiday season. This is also an indication of where we are heading next year, if we're looking at the actual data once we have wrapped up this holiday season, we'll have a clear picture of where we're heading - at least to some extent - the direction of our economy."
Fanta said he expects to see an upward trend in spending this holiday season into next year.