Six reasons to shop small and local

Posted: 12th December 2017


By: Elaine Pritchard

Six reasons to shop small and local

The UK’s annual Small Business Saturday has been and gone, but that’s no reason to stop shopping locally.

Small businesses and the self-employed are crucial to the local economy – and they need your support!

Maybe the recent snow falls have made you take a walk to local shops rather than slither in your car along risky roads to the bigger supermarkets.

December 2 was a great day for the UK’s small businesses. An estimated £748 million was spent across the UK with small businesses on that day. Business owners also organised a wide range of events to cast the spotlight on small businesses.

In Burton-on-Trent town centre, local film-maker Tilley Bancroft and I organised the #BuckieLovesSmallBiz tour, which saw us take a giant, blue puppet around a host of local small businesses.

There were lots of laughs along the way and it was great to see Christmas shoppers warm to the idea of Small Business Saturday as they read the flyers we handed out.

But Small Business Saturday is not a one-day-a-year publicity drive. It aims to change mindsets all-year round.

With that in mind I was delighted to be asked by my local newspaper, the Burton Mail, to share my top six reasons why you should support small businesses 52 weeks of the year.

I know that WiRE members are the best when it comes to shouting about each other’s businesses. Perhaps you could use some of the facts and ideas in this article when you want to influence your non-WiRE connections  to shop small and shop local.

  1.  Small businesses create jobs. Many of the ‘new’ jobs that we are told have been created in the UK in recent years have been created by people who have taken the leap of faith to go self-employed, or start their own business and grow it so that they can employ others. At the start of 2016 there were a record 5.5 million private sector businesses and when figures are announced for this year it is expected to be even higher. Small businesses make up 99.3 per cent of this total. Many people locally will find jobs in the future with small businesses that have grown thanks to support from their local community. If 50 per cent of the small businesses trading today were able to take on ONE more person in the next 12 months we’d be looking at more than two million new jobs. Imagine that!
  2. Spending money with a small business keeps more money in your local economy. Research by local authorities in the UK has shown that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business, 63p stays in the local economy. This compares to 40p in every £1 spent with larger businesses. Small businesses will spend more of the money they earn locally, buying products and services from other small businesses, going out to eat and buying tickets for local sports events, the local cinema and local theatre shows. It’s a real win-win situation for our local businesses and communities, helping other businesses to thrive and safeguarding local jobs.
  3. Small independents add colour and variety to our towns and villages. It would be a boring shopping experience if every street had ONLY the same national chain stores. One great thing about the big High Street shopping names is that you know what to expect. They are successful because they are consistent whether you go into a branch in Burton, Bristol or Birmingham. Of course they bring shoppers into town and they provide jobs. But it’s also great when you find a one-off shop, founded and run by people with a passion for what they do.
  4. Small business owners are at the forefront of innovation. Owners of independent businesses have the freedom, agility and flexibility to run things their way. They don’t have to go through long-winded processes to get approval for new ideas and they can respond quickly to what their customers want. They know that by building up loyal, regular customers who shout about their business to others, their business will grow. They will listen to your feedback and ideas and that means you can have a bit of influence over what they sell. The entrepreneurial mindset means small business owners have a passion for what they do, so they always want to improve and innovate – meaning customers benefit.
  5. Small businesses care about their reputation. We are lucky to have a lot of long-established small businesses in and around Burton. For example, in Burton WiRE member Linda Fidler has celebrated the 30th anniversary of her Sew’N’Sew shop this year where she alters clothes and sells wool, fabric and a host of traditional haberdashery items. Businesses only enjoy longevity like that by delivering great customer service, quality products and services and value that keeps their customers coming back – and continually attracts new customers too. Like many owners of small businesses, Linda is a real expert in her subject and happy to offer advice. Shopping local is about the guarantees you have because you know the business owner and their standing in the local community.
  6. Small food businesses are often more environmentally friendly. When you shop at a local bakers, butchers, market or farm shop, it is likely that a high percentage of what’s on sale has had a relatively short journey from where it was first produced. It’s not likely to have flown half way round the world. It is likely to be fresher and will not have lost nutrients from being stored. Locally bought food often has less plastic packaging, which well-traveled, imported food usually needs to protect and preserve it.