Everyone on my Christmas list is getting gifts purchased locally this year.
Sure, it’s easier to just dive into your computer and with a few clicks of the mouse order exactly what you want to give everyone on your Santa’s list, probably at cheaper prices, and have the U.S. Post Office or Fed-Ex deliver them here. So, what if you have to wait in line for over an hour at the post office. It’s worth it, right, to save a few bucks?
No. Stop thinking that way. It is not worth it. People on Guam need their jobs back. They need income. To buy food. Clothing. Christmas presents. When you order online from off-island companies, that money zips across fiber-optic transmission lines from your bank account to some off-island cyberspace, instead of finding its way into someone’s paycheck here.
Jeff Bezos doesn’t need your money. Someone here who had a job as a sales clerk or a server needs you to spend your hard-earned dollars on Guam so they can get their job back and buy food and Christmas presents for their family.
If local stores and restaurants are open, even at 50 percent capacity or for take-out, all it takes on your part is to get into your car, put on a mask, and socially distance while you spend money that will benefit all of us in the long run, instead of pouring more money into the wallets of Walmart or Target shareholders.
Forbes.com predicts that, according to Big Four accounting firm Deloitte and the national market research firm Forrester, “This will be the year when online shopping explodes.”
“Off the charts” is one of the subheads in a Forbes article about online purchases dated Sept. 27, 2020. The article quotes Deloitte as predicting e-commerce holiday retail sales “will grow between 25 percent to 35 percent from November through January.”
But we don’t have to contribute to that growth, unless of course you are buying online from local merchants. For example, at its annual December meeting, the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce is having a holiday promotion whereby members can advertise their products through a links page. Members can go online to order products from other members and local merchants.
When Guam residents do spend money off island via the internet, even trying to recoup some of those dollars in the form of an internet sales tax is a sticky issue. An internet sales tax has been proposed several times, however, there was such an uproar that you would’ve thought someone was calling for a ban on the internet itself.
One of the arguments is that because Guam is so small, online retailers won’t want to add the infrastructure to tax goods sent to the island at the point of sale. Some say large mainland retailers will just decide not to ship here. However, if you have a drop-down menu where you input your state and it automatically adds the sales tax for that state, it could not be that difficult to add Guam to the program. We are not a foreign entity. So, I don’t think that particular argument holds water any longer.
The bottom line here is that we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t complain about our economy not opening up, and then when stores do open for business, we still buy from Amazon.
There is a meme going around on Facebook that says, “When you buy from a small business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom put food on the table, a dad pay a mortgage or a student pay for college.”
So this holiday season, please wear a mask, practice social distancing, don’t gather in large groups for holiday meals (I know this is difficult, but it’s just for this year), and keep your money circulating here on our beautiful island: buy gift certificates from restaurants for take-out (or dine-in when we can do that again), from massage shops for massages, from salons for manicures, pedicures, haircuts, etc. Buy clothing and gifts from local shops.
They’re out there, just waiting for you. Buy local!
Jayne Flores is the director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.