UNDATED - The state of the economy as a whole is still precarious, but local retailers around the country are reporting some very welcomed good news.

According to a new survey by online business group Manta, four in ten small businesses are already reporting stronger sales this year as opposed to last, and nearly half are more optimistic about future sales.

While shopping online is a convenience for many families during the busy holiday season, the economic impact of shopping locally has a domino effect on the vitality of communities. Parker Wheatley, Assistant Professor of Economics at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University, says it can even stimulate local employment.

According to small-business advocacy group, The 3 of 50 Project, local spending has triple the economic impact of corporate or online shopping.

Additionally, they remind shoppers that local businesses often have unique gifts you might not find in larger stores.