For decades, the holiday shopping routine was familiar — and simple. On the day after Thanksgiving, you’d bundle up the kids and head out to the stores to see the window displays and hunt for bargains.

Then, a few years back, several major stores started their “Black Friday” (a reference to the idea that the holiday season pushes retailers into profitability) at midnight on Thanksgiving.

This year, the sales started midday on Thursday but even so, according to the National Retail Association, a majority of shoppers said they would wait and see what kinds of deals retailers would advertise on this week’s Cyber Monday.

For the entire holiday shopping season, consumers are expected to spend $43.4 billion online, up 17 percent from last year.

So, given the changes in how we shop, the question becomes: where will you do your gift purchasing this season?

We’re hoping you’ll consider patronizing businesses in Hillsboro. Here’s why:

You may save money. Don’t assume you’ll get a deal by driving to the mall. On Thanksgiving weekend the Wall Street Journal reported a study showing that a third of the items advertised for Black Friday sales had been available for less earlier this year. You just might score a real bargain if you take a stroll downtown, through The Streets or in your own neighborhood.

Check out what Hillsboro Tribune advertisers have to offer, right here in our pages. Call them if you don’t find what you’re after, and see if they can get it for you. Our experience is that local vendors go the extra mile, if they’re able, to please a customer who stays closer to home.

Youll see friendly faces. Walking in the door of a local business is a completely different experience than clicking away on your mouse. You can see, feel, smell (and maybe even taste!) what you’re about to buy, and personally wish store owners and employees “happy holidays” to boot. It makes for a more engaged and friendly encounter.

Youll be your own economic stimulus plan. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 60 cents of every dollar spent with an independent retailer stays in the community where the store is located. By comparison, chain stores put back 20 cents of every dollar while big box retailers return just 6 cents of what you spend back into the community. Buying locally gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’re contributing to the economic health of your community.

You’ll be helping others. If you look at the holiday events taking place in and around Hillsboro — from coat and blanket drives to seasonal choral performances — you’ll find that small businesses are supporting most of them in some way, often without asking for any credit.

The benefits of local commerce all spell good news for Hillsboro. While the city is known for its high-profile industrial employers — such as Intel, Genentech, SolarWorld and Tri-Quint — it also boasts a healthy retail base. According to U.S. Census data, Hillsboro businesses generate, on average, about $13,500 in retail sales per-capita each year, which is $500 more than the state average.

Some of that cash will be leaving our wallets and checking accounts in the coming weeks. If we’re clever and caring, we can do our shopping in ways that support our communities and amplify the spirit of giving this season.

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