From the moment one of the huge empires of supermarkets settles in a town, it often spells disaster for many other businesses in the area. The simplicity and accessibility of supermarkets makes shopping easier for all – however, local businesses are not dead and buried. There remain stores that supply specialised products and the loyalty of previous customers keep these going. So, why is it a good idea to support local businesses?
You turn up to work in your most brand-new shirt, only to someone in your office wearing the exact same shirt – it is no surprise that this has occurred when there is one major retail store in your town! , Unlike big brands, which churn out thousands of the same generic item, a product bought and made locally will often be unique.
There’s nothing better than a good conversation, right? Shopping locally will generally give this added bonus over the standard ‘how can I help you?’. Although major brands focus a significant emphasis on delivering quality customer service, the owner of a local business will often make it their mission to learn all their customer’s names. Major retailer’s stockpiles will often be based on general nationwide trends, as opposed to the needs and the wants of the customer. For local shops however, they will build their supplies in a way to cater for the everyday shoppers.
The money we give to our local businesses goes much further than just their till — the local economy gets this money back. Research has found that 63p out of every £1 is returned into the local economy when you shop at a local business, as opposed to 40p in every £1 at a larger one. You may initially think that by going to your local pub for Sunday lunch you are only spending £30. In fact, what you are doing is creating a job opportunity, which in turn reduces unemployment and increases the overall tax contribution made.
Field-to-fork is a concept we should be paying more attention to. Buying out of season fruit is often damaging to the environment as it has more than likely taken a 2,000-mile trip across the world in order to make its way onto the top of your pavlova. Purchasing from your local fruit shop, however, is almost guaranteed to reflect a shorter distance travelled. Likewise, because you are buying your food fresh, you often won’t get it wrapped up like a Christmas present, saving on unnecessary plastic.
We aren’t going to lie and say that local businesses aren’t generally more costly to buy from. Realistically, when larger companies can employ strategies such as economies of scale and loss leaders, we aren’t going to expect a fair fist fight in terms of pricing, however, in the long run, are local businesses really suffering the effects of an uppercut from the supermarkets?
The classic ‘impulse-buy’ is too easy to fall for in a supermarket. Big bright yellow signs pointing to a two pence reduction is enough to make us fill up the shopping trolley and we end up leaving with enough Brillo Pads to see us through to the end of the next decade. Going to local stores, like the bakers and butchers, we are forced to shop around — although it might take us slightly longer.
Regardless of the price, these businesses are also more likely to offer us a quality product, whether it be food or furniture.
As opposed to simply funding another shop owner, by supporting local businesses you are helping to establish a sense of community and returning investment back to your area.
From Flogas, who help businesses across the UK switching from oil to gas.