Keep the cheer here. Those words are being echoed by Chambers of Commerce across New Jersey as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

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In fact, many local tows are offering incentives to keep residents spending their money inside municipal borders.

"We are an area of small businesses which are generally mom and pop type stores and when people shop locally, 68 percent of what they're spending in the store typically stays in the community by wages that they're paying to their employees and many shop owners do live in the community," said Vicki Clark, president of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce. "This is also a way for people who go to our stores asking for help for their fundraisers or donations to give back to those store owners who so generously support the community."

In Cape May County, the Chamber is hosting a contest for shoppers until December 15. The contest winner will receive a $500 prize of gift cards for stores in Cape May County.

Participating stores will have signs and registration forms. The only qualification is that shoppers must make a purchase in order to enter the contest.

"When people shop locally, it really benefits the small businesses in our region who are the ones who are creating the jobs," said Alex Hollywood, president of the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce. "The life blood of our local economies depend on the downtown districts, so we really encourage residents in Middlesex County to shop downtown. Many of our towns offer incentives to keep residents shopping locally."

There are many ways for towns and merchants to generate more traffic to their stores during the holiday season.

"Events like tree lightings or getting your photo taken with Santa and holiday concerts are good ways to entice more shoppers into downtowns across New Jersey," said Al Titone, the Small Business Administration's New Jersey District Director. "Merchants who decorate their windows with holiday scenes and decorations can drive more business into their stores and of course coupons and discounts also attract more shoppers."