Our High Streets and local communities have been suffering for many years now. With the advent and ease of online shopping, countless small local businesses and even major high street brands have felt the effect.
We lead busy lives in today’s fast paced society. Finding the time to visit our local shops can be difficult. Browsing and ordering online, then having our stuff delivered, has become a far easier option for many. This has unfortunately decimated many of our High Streets.
This past year or so has only exacerbated this problem with the introduction of devastating “lockdowns” of our society. Shops and businesses have been unlawfully forced to close by Government. Shopping online has become our only option for many goods and services. Many small businesses will never open again and the rest are on their knees, struggling to survive. There has never been a more important time in our history to support these surviving small businesses in our local communities. This article aims to highlight some reasons, we should all get back to shopping locally.
- HELP BUILD & SUSTAIN YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY
To sustain a strong local economy, we simply must buy from local businesses. Independent local businesses are the backbone and heart of our communities.
Some research suggests that for every £10 we spend in a local business, as much as an additional £50 will go back into the local
economy. Why does this happen? Our £10 goes into the pockets of our local business owners, who then spend more money at local suppliers, cafés, pubs and restaurants.
The more money we all spend in our local, and preferably independent businesses, the more money circulates through our local economy, creating diverse and vibrant town centres.
- YOU CAN HELP PROMOTE COMMUNITY HEALTH
Buying our food from local independent producers can and does promote good health within our communities. Fruit and vegetables from local farms or farmers markets are generally fresher and are less likely to have been treated with chemicals and industrial pesticides. Eggs from local farms or small holdings are far healthier than those produced for large supermarkets. Meat from a local butcher is likely to have been sourced from local farms.
- YOU CAN HELP THE ENVIRONMENT
Shopping locally also makes a positive impact on our environment. There is a massive push on at the moment to reduce carbon emissions. This seems to have gone into overdrive during the Corona virus “pandemic”. There are conflicting views as to whether climate change is a man-made problem and is an argument for another day.
There is however, no doubt that walking or cycling into our local town centres instead of jumping into your car to head to a supermarket at a retail park, will help to reduce pollution and help our local environment and air quality. An added bonus is also a boost to our fitness!
Small local businesses need less infrastructure to operate. Independent food stores often source their goods locally, meaning
the “field to fork” journey is far shorter, which again reduces the overall impact on our environment. Our food is less likely to have travelled half way around the world if we use our local butcher, greengrocer or farm shop, rather than Asda, Tesco and the like.
I’m sure most of us would like to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we dispose of. The small independents tend to be more environmentally conscious than the huge chains where it is all about massive profit over anything else. Plastic pollution is one of the great dangers to our health. Micro plastics have polluted our seas and water courses. Small independents tend to use less plastic packaging.
- YOU HELP TO ADD CHARACTER TO YOUR TOWN OR CITY
Small businesses and boutique stores help to add character to our town centres. Many small businesses will try to “stick out” to attract customers. They may have a colourful and quirky store front to help brand their business. This helps to add visual appeal to their store and indeed the local community in general. Colourful and pretty town centres also have the added bonus of attracting tourists and visitors, which in turn brings further money into the local economy.
- YOU RECEIVE BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE
Local business owners tend to get to know the people in their community. This leads to a more personalised shopping experience. Local business owners often try to build relationships with their customers. They are often passionate about their products or services. They are more likely to go the “extra mile” to ensure you are satisfied and you return to their business in future. Your local merchants are more likely to offer a discount or deal which we all like right?
As stated at the beginning of the article, now is possibly the most important time in our history to get back to supporting our local businesses and merchants. There seems to be an ongoing attack on small to medium sized independents. Many have already gone under and will never return. Those that do reopen after these devastating lockdowns, face an uphill struggle to survive. If we don’t support them now, they too will be consigned to the history books.