It's just so easy to pull out your phone and make a purchase these days. There's no hassle of getting prepped to leave the house, there's no travel involved, and with the way the world is right now - there's no crowds to face. Plus, you can bounce around from site to site and find the cheapest price from multiple retailers in a matter of seconds.

Businesses aren't the only ones feeling the sting of online shopping. I saw a story yesterday about the Salvation Army planning to send bell ringers out at the end of THIS MONTH. If that seems a bit early, it's because it is. But the worry is that COVID-19 will cause more people to shop online this year and Salvation Army collections could drop as much as 50% this holiday season.

At the Missoula City Council meeting on Monday night, local spending was on the agenda for Mayor John Engen as he emphasized the need to shop small and shop local. Many local businesses have felt the punch that COVID-19 has delivered. And although the doors might be open, many places are still seeing the effects of restrictions like limited occupancy, reduced staff, and lack of visitors from many factors that include canceled events.

There's Small Business Saturday (supporting locally owned, small businesses the day following Black Friday) every year. But by the time that arrives, it might be too late for some local spots. Mayor Engen's push for shopping local included numbers from the Small Business Administration that 62% of small businesses in the U.S. “reported that they need to see consumer spending return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 in order to stay in business.”

If there was a time to come together and help the businesses that makeup our community - that time would be now. Just stop for a second and think about all the great businesses we have around town. The next time you pull out your phone to browse for your next purchase, keep local options in mind!