It wasn't long ago the media was trying to tank Trump's economy by convincing us that a recession was looming. So much for that. The early numbers indicate this could be an amazing year for Christmas and holiday shopping.

Fox Business says consumers spent a record-breaking $7.4 billion in just online sales on Black Friday. That doesn't count all of the folks who dragged themselves to the malls, plazas, downtowns, and shopping centers from coast to coast on Friday.

Adobe Analytics says Small Business Saturday and what is now known as Super Sunday was responsible for another $7.6 billion in online sales. Again, brick-and-mortar stores are still checking register tape.

Adobe says Saturday's online sales record represents 18 percent year-over-year growth. Fox Business says "the full holiday season has marked a 14.9 percent year-over-year growth with $68.2 billion spent online between November 1 and November 30."

And today is Cyber Monday.

Having spent very little time in stores over the long weekend, I can't say for certain but it appeared to me as though the traffic was fairly light and checkout lines were reasonable if not short. Folks are apparently spending like savages this Christmas season but appear to be doing it from home and in record-setting numbers from their smartphones. While all of this is great for the overall economy, it is not encouraging for brick-and-mortar merchants who are already struggling.

This trend is troubling for local merchants, the mom and pop stores that are so vital to our communities. Local businesses account for most of our employment. Our local merchants and not big franchises support our local sports teams and provide gift certificates and other items for charitable events. They contribute to local scholarship funds and pay local property taxes. To lose them would be a blow to our local communities.

Local merchants offer unique products and services you cannot find in box stores or on Amazon. Local merchants provide a marketplace for locally-made products that are simply not available online.

There are many fine local merchants located throughout our area who would appreciate your business. How special it is to present someone with a gift certificate to their favorite local restaurant and tickets to a locally-produced event or production.

Remember to shop local and support your local merchants who do so much for the community. Their presence would be sorely missed if we no longer supported them.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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