* Small businesses create two out of three U.S. jobs
* Retailers waiting to see effects of looming 'fiscal cliff'
WASHINGTON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, in a
bid to show support for small businesses, took his daughters on
an early Christmas shopping trip on Saturday as the U.S. retail
sector swings into high gear this holiday season.
Promoting "Small Business Saturday," the third annual event
that encourages consumers to support independently-owned local
shops, Obama took his daughters Sasha and Malia to "One More
Page Books" in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
"Preparation," said Obama, while talking to the store owner
at the front counter and looking at his BlackBerry, apparently
checking book titles while his daughters stood at his side.
"That's how I shop."
Over the last two decades, small businesses have created two
of every three U.S. jobs. To try to spur job growth, the Obama
administration says it aims to cut taxes for small businesses
and expand entrepreneurs' access to financing.
Both Main Street merchants and larger retailers will find
out soon if the so-called fiscal cliff that threatens to produce
tax increases and automatic spending cuts in January will subdue
shoppers and hold back spending this holiday season.
Congress and Obama are about to negotiate on a deal to avert
the roughly $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set
to start jolting the economy at the beginning of 2013.
Asked by reporters what is needed to cushion the economic
impact of the looming fiscal cliff, Obama declined to answer,
saying "we're doing Christmas shopping."
The White House said Obama bought 15 children's books that
will be given as Christmas gifts to family members.
Last year, more than 100 million Americans shopped locally
on Small Business Saturday, according to an estimate by American
Small businesses taking part in the initiative use social
networks like Facebook and Twitter to promote deals and attract
Taking to Twitter himself after the shopping excursion,
Obama wrote: "My family & I started our holiday shopping at a
local bookstore on #SmallBizSat. I hope you'll join & shop small
this holiday season."
The nationwide initiative that urges customers to open their
wallets to local businesses follows Black Friday, one the
nation's busiest shopping days at major retailers falling the
day after Thanksgiving.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is known as Cyber Monday,
where deals are found on the Internet and is more often a hit
with shoppers unwilling to brave long lines.