Jeremy Casson is an art conservator who, after working for several public institutions, today runs his own practice mentoring other conservators. This article will provide an overview of the main benefits of shopping locally and supporting independent retailers and other small businesses.
Across the United Kingdom today, small businesses are the bread and butter of the economy. With many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) pitched against multinational corporations, the importance of lending support to small businesses cannot be overstated.
SMEs stimulate local economies. When consumers opt to place their spending power behind local businesses, this money filters back into the communities those businesses serve.
Many consumers fall into the trap of assuming that large chain stores are more competitive on price. However, this is not always the case. After all, where a single brand monopolizes a market it dictates the price, as it has no market rivals to compete with. Buying local is not only good for communities but it can also be more economical too. Like bigger stores, many independent retailers also operate reward schemes for regular customers. In addition, many go the extra mile by ordering items for shoppers, recommending suitable alternatives or allowing customers to sample goods prior to purchase.
Tax revenue generated by SMEs supports society on a local and national level through business rates, income tax and corporation tax. This money is reinvested in the community. While big box retailers often receive generous tax breaks, SMEs tend not to benefit from such luxuries, making it all the more important for consumers to support them.
Local businesses create jobs in the community, raising living standards for local people and making the area better to work and live in. These jobs provide opportunities for new entrepreneurs, designers and retailers, as well as supporting other local businesses.
Shopping locally encourages entrepreneurship, inspiring the next generation of founders and business leaders. It is also more convenient, eliminating the need for long car journeys, saving both time and money. In addition, independent retailers often offer unique products, presenting the opportunity for consumers to access quirky, original products that are not mass produced and in the process support local artisans, artists, designers and authors.
Shopping local has a significant positive impact from an environmental perspective. Localised supply chains enable consumers to buy what they need while travelling less to complete their shopping, driving down their individual carbon footprint. In addition, locally sourced produce incurs fewer food miles compared with huge supermarkets, which source much of their stock from overseas. When shoppers buy from their local farm shop or butcher, produce usually has a much shorter ‘field-to-fork journey’, as well as less plastic packaging. The long supply chains of big businesses, on the other hand, create more emissions, with destructive impacts on both people and the planet.