With less than a week to go before Christmas, we encourage everyone who still has a gift to purchase to shop locally.

We say it every year about this time, but it’s worth repeating.

Local, independent stores are the backbone of every community. These independent businesses help define our cities. If we want them to thrive we need to throw our support behind them.

The biggest reason to shop locally is that your money will stay in this community and will contribute to keeping jobs here. Your sales tax money will go toward local services. When you shop locally, you’re helping your community.

Studies show that when you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local economy versus $43 when spent with a national chain.

Moreover, locally owned businesses reinvest in the local economy at a 60 percent higher rate than chains and Internet retailers, helping to revitalize their economies.

When you shop locally you are supporting community groups. Nonprofit organizations receive on average 250 percent more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

Another often overlooked reason to shop locally is that you will likely get better service. Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

It just makes sense to shop locally when you can.