Community urged to support home team when holiday shopping

By Sean Phee

When men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson encouraged the southern Illinois community to support its home team in a local radio commercial, he was not talking about the basketball team.

In this case, southern Illinois’ home team is local business.

In the commercial, Hinson told the audience to do holiday shopping at local businesses rather than shopping online or going to a bigger city, such as St. Louis. The commercial was created by Shop Southern Illinois, a group of 10 southern Illinois chambers of commerce, according to its website.


Les O’Dell, executive director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, said his chamber is the most important member of Shop Southern Illinois.

“Carbondale is the retail center of southern Illinois,” he said. “People from all over the region come to shop in Carbondale.”

Kevin Sylwester, an associate professor of economics, said supporting the region’s “home team” is very important. Sylwester said spending money locally makes towns thrive.

“?The spending that remains in the community supports local jobs,” he said. “The more jobs in the community, the more additional spending and so a cycle arises.”

Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity said so far, local shopping has increased this year.

“We are running at about 3 percent increase over last fiscal year on Home Rule Sales tax, which is tax imposed and we are at a 2 percent increase in regular sales tax,” Baity said.

Home rule sales tax is tax imposed by the city.


Baity said he hopes this trend will continue into the holiday season as December alone counts for 11.25 percent of total tax revenue.

For some stores, the Christmas season accounts for 50 percent of their yearly revenue, Sylwester said.

Baity said he sees online shopping as a bigger threat than going to a bigger city to shop because if that city is in Illinois, at least the state still gains tax revenue.

The rise of online shopping has a negative impact for small towns, Baity said. Online purchases have no sales tax so the local community misses out on revenue whenever someone makes an online purchase, he said.

“In 2013, municipalities, counties and states lost out on over $23 billion in uncollected sales taxes due to online shopping,” Baity said.

Illinois was the fifth biggest loser of sales tax revenue because of online shopping, Baity said. He said the state lost about $1 billion because of it.

Baity said there is a way to stop this revenue loss. Congress should pass the National Marketplace Fairness Act, which would put a flat tax on online purchases. He said revenues from this tax would be disbursed to states who in turn would disburse it to the counties and municipalities on a per-capita basis.

“For Carbondale alone, this would generate in excess of $1 million in additional revenue per year,” he said.

Baity said the act passed the Senate but the House is trying to kill the bill.

Despite this, holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1 percent this year, Baity said. Ryan Trosley, a senior from Wood River studying radio television, said he noticed an increase in holiday sales this year at his job.

Trosley, an employee at Sound Core Music and Video, said he is seeing the increase in sales. He said he is selling more larger items such as drum kits than in years past.

Trosley said shopping local is important to keeping Carbondale’s culture.

“Look at the Strip: it’s unique and it adds to the community,” he said.