THE Kiama and District Chamber of Commerce has started a campaign to encourage shoppers to buy locally in the lead-up to Christmas.
Kiama florist and chamber executive member Marie Baikmanis has been part of a US credit card company's Shop Small campaign since November and the chamber will continue with a similar idea.
The chamber will distribute "Buy Local at Christmas" stickers to all businesses in the municipality to put in their front windows, irrespective of their business type or whether they are chamber members.
With IRIS figures finding just 4.2 per cent of the Kiama municipality's workforce works within the local government area, chamber president Deidre Hindmarsh said its businesses created jobs for residents.
"Most of our businesses employ one to four people, and employ locals," she said.
"There's no escaping the fact that 4100 people do work out of Kiama, but that doesn't mean they can't do their Christmas shopping where they live."
Kiama Mayor Bryan Petschler said every employee saved from a commute was great for the municipality.
"I think the local businesses have to struggle against the much louder noise that the big shopping centres and stores make, but there is a surprising range of businesses in the municipality that provide a much more personalised service than perhaps you get in the large impersonal shopping centres," he said.
Cr Petschler said business in the municipality had changed dramatically since the Kiama bypass was built in the 1980s.
"For one, [Terralong Street] was the highway and getting into the main street to do any shopping was a cacophony of sound and movement and traffic and a series of fast food outlets, mainly chicken shops in those days," he said.
"You look along the street now, it's much easier, there is traffic but it's just moving up and down at town rates.
"Compared to the late '80s, the fast food shops are gone, you've got coffee shops a lot more gift shops, you've got a lot more specialty shops and the quality of the goods is outstanding."