Down Economy is Buying Opportunity for Holiday Shoppers

letter-to-the-editorBy Harry Wyatt

Like many Americans, I am feeling a little less financially secure these days. As the holiday season inches closer, I feel like I should be scrimping and saving, not spending and splurging.

But with prices as low as they are in retail stores, this could be one of the best opportunities for holiday shoppers to buy big-ticket items at bargain prices. Plus we can’t postpone the holiday season until a time that is more convenient for us. Try explaining that to your kids.

What we can do is make sure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck; the best way to do that is to shop locally.

I will be shopping in my hometown of Roselle this holiday season, not just because I am the Coordinator of the Roselle Urban Enterprise Zone, but because I want to save money. Believe it or not, that is not difficult to do in today’s market. Store owners need to move inventory to keep up with operating expenses. That means they will be slashing prices, making for some deals you might not see again for the next 10 or 20 years.

Shopping locally allows me to take maximum advantage of these low prices by saving on gas and taxes. Stores in Roselle’s UEZ charge only 3.5 percent sales tax as opposed to the full state rate of 7 percent. This allows me to purchase my gifts and still have some money left to put in my bank account. It may not sound like a lot, but the savings really add up.

Another reason I’ll be doing my holiday shopping close to home is because I enjoy it more than going to a hectic regional shopping mall. Who wants to sit in traffic, park in section double-Z and wait on long lines to pay inflated prices? I prefer the hometown shopping experience. I visit my favorite local stores, I see my neighbors out and about, and when I decide that I’ve had enough shopping for one day, I’m only five minutes from home. It’s holiday shopping the way it is meant to be.

So if you’re looking for a silver lining to all of the financial gloom and doom we read about in the newspaper every day, remember this: you can stretch your shopping dollar a lot farther this year than you have in the past. All shoppers will benefit, but the best way to ensure you are getting the best deal possible is to shop locally and in an area with reduced taxes, such as an Urban Enterprise Zone.

This may be a down economy, but if you’re a savvy consumer, it could be one of the best holiday shopping seasons ever.

Harry Wyatt is Coordinator of the Roselle Urban Enterprise Zone. He can be reached at 908-259-3001 or

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