BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The holiday shopping season is underway and millions of Americans are spending big money. That’s why local leaders are encouraging Marylanders to support locally-owned businesses.

Shop Maryland is a reminder that shopping is a good deal for the state, that lasts after the season is over.

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From mega-sized malls to online stores, shoppers have no shortage of options.

“Nothing against shopping on the internet or going to the mall or the big box store, but this year, let’s come to Ellicott City and spend some money,” said Governor Larry Hogan.

Governor Larry Hogan is criss-crossing the state to ask Marylanders to spend their money at locally owned businesses.

The Shop Maryland tour is launching in Ellicott City to bounce back after a devastating flood that damaged and destroyed historic Main Street last July.

The Maryland Retailers Association says the money is crucial. More than 760,000 Marylanders work in retailers, making the shops the number one private sector employer in the state and the second largest source of tax revenue.

“It is jobs. It’s tax revenue. It’s neighborhood stabilization. It’s how you actually invest in your community,”  said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

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“I like the mom and pop shops. It’s local and keeps the money local,” said shopper Eric Hunter.

Business owners WJZ spoke to say they depend on the holiday shopping season to makeup for other times of low sales in the year.

For some retailers, holiday sales account for more 25 percent of all sales.

“It’s really what carries us through the next quarter after the holidays,” said Su Casa owner Nicholas Johnson.

At Bill’s Music in Catonsville, the owners know they can’t compete with big-name stores that can afford to slash prices. Their selling point is personalization.

“In our own small business way we can keep up with it,” said Jamie Reese, of  Bill’s Music. “We have a lot of value here a lot of people with a lot of knowledge that can not only sell you something but kind of follow-up.”

A recent survey estimates the average consumer spends $935 on gifts, decor and other holiday items.

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