A Love Letter to Local- Why Shopping at Local Businesses is the Way Forward
Local businesses are the backbone of the British economy, shopping and investing in them means that you can have a very strong and positive effect on the health of your local economy and area.
Global e-commerce saw an unprecedented explosion in sales during the pandemic, with big companies such as Amazon seeing record sales and monopolising online retail. We are living in times where modern consumerism is prevalent, with price, speed and convenience being the three pain customer priorities in this digital age. Online shopping is not always best, because although it is the cheapest option on paper, the overseas production, transport and delivery significantly contributes to climate change and further worsens carbon footprints all over the world. This is why now is the perfect time to turn our focus on small businesses in the face of multi-billion dollar corporations swallowing all smaller businesses and ruining the planet further.
The wonderful thing about local businesses are that they are run by individual people and not giant corporations, stockholders or algorithms. The experience of speaking to a real-life human makes shopping infinitely more enjoyable and pleasant. Although many chain corporations do have excellent customer service, it is difficult to beat the appeal of a local shop owner adding their own personal touch to the experience. This makes shopping feel unique and personal, rather than something cheap and robotic in the way that online shopping does. Building relationships with local sellers means that shopping becomes less transactional and much more personal.
Shopping local also encourages and sustains tourism, as often it is the smaller shops and businesses that make UK towns so unique, adding to the overall charm and attraction of a place. There are countless examples of this around the UK, including St Andrews, thanks to a variety of local companies thriving thanks to a healthy perception of the importance of independently owned businesses. There is an element of taking part in a British tradition when one shops locally. Unlike other countries in Europe and more broadly, Britain has stubbornly refused to surrender to the encroaching chains that are ubiquitous in British high streets.
By exploring smaller businesses you are part of the fight back against the chains. Independent stores are needed now more than ever as uniformity of hegemonic brands sweep across the streets, innovation and creativity is pushed to the side. Small businesses aren’t always small, it is this ambition that brings customers in, and gives entrepreneurs the springboard they need to reach success. This therefore gives business owners a chance to hold their own in the face of giant companies trying to out run them.
Many businesses have worked together to launch a 'Shop Independent Campaign', which was started by Not On the High Street founder Holly Tucker. Find more information about the movement here!
In conclusion, as local businesses are the backbone of the British economy, they function as the spine and what keeps everything else together. To ignore them or try to prioritise big corporations will not just damage the planet, reduce job opportunities, and fuel global greed, but it will equate to economic self-destruction. People traditionally shop online because of alleged convenience, but what could be more convenient than local! As well as environmental, moral, and personal benefits, all of the above combine to make supporting local entrepreneurs and shop owners the best way forwards.
- Anna Gilmore Heezen, 15th March 2023