The holiday shopping season should provide a big boost to the state’s economy. Dave Swenson, Associate Scientist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, predicts Iowans will spend $773 million more than normal.
But, he says much of that potential economic benefit is being “leaked” or lost to online, catalog or out of state sales. “Every one-percent of leaked sales that we recapture, it’s enough to support 100 jobs and over two-million dollars worth of earnings,” Swenson said. “So the incentive to capture those lost sales, those leaked sales, to buy local at the state level are very, very profound.”
The Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is taking a unique approach to encourage residents to shop locally. Executive Director Brook Boehmler says they’re asking residents to commit to buying a product that everyone uses from a local retailer for an entire year.
The product: toilet paper. Boehmler says a committee set up to study the issue estimates the county is losing $114,000 annually, in sales tax revenue alone, because residents are buying toilet paper at big discount stores in Mason City or Ames.
“The committee’s been working on it since August,” Boehmler said. “Just (raising) awareness of next time you’re in a store, at a big discount outside your community, what would happen if you would commit to just one product, buying it NOT outside your community?”
Boehmler says they plan to launch the campaign in 2012, but decided to “sneak preview” it during the holiday shopping season. Swenson and Boehmler made their comments on the Iowa Public Radio program The Exchange.