HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — ‘Tis the season for Christmas parades, parties and purchasing.

Hundreds showed up to celebrate and wave to all the floats and cars in the procession during the Homewood Christmas Parade on Tuesday night.

While the parade may have officially kicked off the Christmas season in Homewood, the holidays have already been going hard for Homewood businesses.

Ahead of Tuesday night’s festivities, several local shops also drew a crowd.

“We’ve had a great holiday season so far,” said Jeff Tenner, who has run the clothing stores Soca and Soca Girl in Homewood with his wife for 22 years.

Tenner said business is finally back for them after the pandemic, but it can be hard to compete with the online retail giants. He urged shoppers to look local first when spending this season. According to the Alabama Retail Association, Alabamians are predicted to spend $18 billion during the holidays.

“It’s sales tax revenue, first and foremost, but then it’s also the fact you have local stores run by people that live in your community, those people employ other people that live in your community,” Tenner said.

That’s exactly what brought Katie Sorabella and her daughters to the Homewood Toy and Hobby Shop on Tuesday.

“We live in the area, and anytime we ever need anything, this shop has everything accessible to us,” Sorabella said.

Larry and Jean Reidinger also came to the shop all the way from Talladega in search of a present for their 8-year-old grandson.

“He wants a remote-controlled car, and that’s what we’re here looking for,” Larry said.

The couple also knows firsthand the importance of looking local.

“We had a local store for years, a furniture store, so we understand that local stores depend on people in the area,” Larry said.

“It’s just right to [shop local],” Jean said.