As if there isn't enough stress on retailers heading into the Christmas season, now they are worrying about whether the 16-day government shutdown caused enough concern that shoppers will cut back on spending.

That fear is especially strong among small retailers.

Retailers hope that short-term uncertainty won't stop Americans from spending during the busiest shopping period of the year, but they're fearful that it will.

The biggest enemy of consumer confidence is uncertainty.

The holiday season accounts for up to 40 percent of retailers' annual revenue. That figure might be even higher for small, family-owned shops in small towns.

The gloom provides an opportunity for local merchants.

Every year we make the plea for area residents to do their holiday shopping locally.

With gas prices on a rollercoaster ride, it makes sense to save that money for purchases.

Shop at home.

Every dollar spent at home goes back into the community.

Shop at home.

Remember, for some small retailers, a successful Christmas shopping season might make the difference between staying open or shuttering their business.

Shop at home ... now and during the holidays.