Retailers of all sizes are working toward what they hope is a strong holiday shopping season.

It’s been a trying time for many in southwest Kansas due to lingering woes related to oil-and-gas and crop price declines.

Knowing as much, it’s all the more important to patronize independent merchants and other retailers in town as the holiday shopping surge begins this week with a flurry of Black Friday specials.

This is the time many retailers must fight for their survival, especially as more people turn to digital devices as a way to fill Christmas wish lists.

While online sales will continue a trend of positive gains over previous years, it's encouraging to see predictions of healthy holiday sales overall.

The National Retail Federation said surveys show Americans ready to spend 3.4 percent more than last year with total spending of $678 billion to $682 billion. Of the total, physical stores will see a 5-to-1 edge in purchases compared to their online counterparts.

The urge always should be to minimize online buying. The demise of Sears in Garden City and other store closings sure to come nationwide will be a direct result of consumers moving to online options such as Amazon.

To compete this holiday season, many physical stores will lure shoppers with “doorbuster” bargains. Still, the overall strategy has to go beyond price drops.

Merchants have a responsibility to give consumers multiple reasons to leave home to spend their dollars. Outstanding customer service is one, and shoppers should acknowledge and reward those efforts.

Before heading online or out of town to shop, shoppers also should consider how dollars spent locally help support projects designed to improve quality of life. A good reminder came in recent passage of a modest sales-tax increase to build a new fire station and public-private indoor shooting range, and make needed improvements to Jennie Barker Road and Lee Richardson Zoo.

There are advantages to staying in town and choosing from an impressive array of retail options ranging from small mom-and-pop operations to the big-box stores.

Tackle the holiday spending spree with care, and be sure to shop local.