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Shop local if possible

Black Friday has come and gone with slim crowds and retailers looking for creative ways to attract customers while keeping shoppers and staffers safe.

The coronavirus is changing many aspects of our daily lives, and the holiday shopping season is no exception. It simply isn’t safe for people to gather in large crowds to wait for balloons filled with coupons and prizes to drop from above. Standing in long lines and rushing to beat others to a coveted bargain also is too risky with this highly contagious illness raging across the nation and around the world.

So, just as we have done with work, school and recreation, we must find ways to adapt.

Few, if any, people will opt to simply forgo the tradition of giving gifts to friends and family for the holidays. Even if we can’t celebrate together around a Christmas tree as many families would during a normal year, it is likely that most people will still want to lavish their loved ones with presents. In fact, it may be even more important for people with the means to do so to spoil their children and grandchildren a little bit, since we haven’t been able to spend together as we would like.

One shopping solution is to turn to online sources. Almost every major retailer has a website or an app that is convenient and easy to use. In addition to store sites, there are all sorts of shopping sites that make nearly everything under the sun available for delivery.

Another option is to order ahead from your favorite stores and take advantage of their curbside pickup or delivery services. Little to no contact with store personnel is required.

But this year hasn’t just been tough on us as individuals. It also has been a real challenge for small businesses. Specialty stores, boutiques, antique shops, sporting goods vendors, spas and salons have all suffered under the burdens of temporary shutdowns, restricted hours and reduced foot traffic that have resulted from efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Those businesses need our help now more than ever.

So, whenever you can, we urge you to find ways to shop local and to do so safely. Those small businesses are taking precautions to protect their customers and employees, just as the large retail chains are. They enforce masking rules and may offer delivery or curbside pickup.

We encourage our readers to explore those options as you search for the perfect gifts to give on Christmas or as part of your Hanukkah or Kwanzaa celebrations. If you can locate the merchandise you are seeking in downtown Barnesville, Flushing, Shadyside, Martins Ferry or St. Clairsville, please do so. It could make a big difference to a neighbor and the community.

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