COVID-19 has been devastating for many small businesses in the United States, and consumers across the country have been encouraging each other to shop local. Local companies are especially significant in Texas, as the Lone Star State ranks second in the nation for the largest amount of small businesses. Texas is also among the top states that create new jobs via small businesses.

In an average year, the holiday shopping season creates a significant peak in revenue for small businesses, but in a pandemic year, shopping local is more important than ever. Fortunately, holiday sales are still expected to rise, despite the negative economic impacts of COVID-19.

If you’re looking for safe ways to support businesses in your community, use these tips from your Better Business Bureau:

• Buy a gift card - If the pandemic has caused your favorite business or restaurant to temporarily close or reduce operations, buy a gift card to use later!

• Shop online - Many local vendors have closed their physical doors but are operating virtually and filling online orders. Visit the business’ website to see what online options it offers.

• Consider virtual classes - Educators in your area may be offering online classes for art, yoga, cooking and more. Gifting an online class to friends or family is a creative way to support local professionals while making progress on holiday gift hunting.

• Eat local - Locally owned restaurants need support during the holidays too! Utilize curbside and takeout options at your favorite eateries to give them your business while staying safe.

• Take a rain check - If you paid in advance for gifts like event tickets, classes or other services that may be cancelled due to COVID-19, ask for credit on future purchases rather than a refund.

Buying from small businesses may be easier said than done for those on a budget. Consider these free ways to support your community:

• Write a review - If you’re unable to buy from your favorite businesses, tell others why they should. Positive reviews and ratings can direct revenue to small businesses from new customers.

• Like and share - Recommend local businesses to your friends and family by sharing their social media pages. This can help bring more attention to the company’s products and services.

• Show your appreciation - Help boost morale in these tough times by reaching out to small businesses in your community to tell them you appreciate the work they do.

For more tips on shopping smart and shopping small, visit BBB.org. Happy holidays from everyone at BBB Serving the Heart of Texas!

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