Coronavirus has affected us all in some way or another. Times like these are testing for everyone and changing life as we know it. No doubt, it is a scary time for many of us.
One group of people particularly affected by the outbreak are your local business owners. Without being able to open their doors and welcome in their customers, they have no choice but to adapt and overcome to see their doors open once again when this is all over.
With so much time and energy invested into their business, as well as having their income on the line, it is a terrifying prospect.
With that being said, the support for local businesses despite the difficulties of social distancing has been overwhelming. Thousands of people are finding new and innovative ways to continue to support the stores in their area. Here’s why:
The huge resurgence in interest for shopping local comes with the realisation of what our high streets would be like without the presence of these charismatic outlets. Can you imagine a high street where your only choices are big brands you can find in almost any other town?
It’s important to remember that when you buy small, you’re not just supporting a local business. You’re supporting the foundations of your community, your friends, families, neighbours and everyone who makes your town, village or city, unique and special.
Not only this, but there are a number of economic benefits to shopping local too.
Spend £10, Generate £50 for Your Community
It may seem counterintuitive that the impact of spending in your community can multiply in such a way. However, when you spend at a major supermarket for example, your money isn’t as likely to be circulated back into your community. This is because the only money able to be spent locally is that of it’s workforce. Revenue for the chain is reinvested elsewhere or paid to its shareholders.
If we compare this to spending £10 with your local greengrocer, your money is more likely to be spent within your area. It could be spent with local services to support your greengrocer, to source more local goods or even when the grocer closes up shop and spends money at a local pub or restaurant.
This kind of exchange of money within a local area is a key indicator of a healthy local economy and helps create a high street to be proud of.
Small Retailers Create Twice as Many Jobs
This figure comes from a detailed report on Amazon’s impact on communities as well as other damaging effects that their operation entails.
At a glance, Amazon is a massive operation and with each expansion, they offer hundreds of new jobs. However, as with a lot of big operations, ‘efficiency’ is key to growth. In other words, this means compounding the pressure on their staff to hit huge targets and automating where they can.
Local business owners employ who they need to employ and are much more likely to recognise their staff as people. They recognise the benefit of a happy and productive team and put their employees first. Without the cut-throat attitude towards efficiency, this leads to more job opportunities within the local community and many more people that are happy in their work.
Lessen Tax Burdens and Create Tax Revenue
The local community is dependent on how we choose to spend our money. High streets can be lined with independent retailers but if we’re choosing not to spend our money with them, the local government will look to excite your town’s economy in other ways.
One such way of doing this is to offer a tax incentive to big businesses to attract them to the area. An almost surefire way to bring people to the town and encourage spending in the area.
This however comes with several knock on effects. The incentive has to come from somewhere. The residents have to foot this cost, creating a higher tax burden on them. In addition, less revenue is kept within the local economy as explained in point one leading to a less healthy macro economy.
By demonstrating that your local economy can thrive by supporting local businesses, there’s no need to outlay this incentive. In other ways, it can be used to fix our roads, support our schools and strengthen our local businesses.
By voting for local with your money and supporting the macro economy, you will see the benefit of your spending in so many more ways than just the products or services you buy. The area you live in will prosper and flourish with more money spent by the local government where it counts.
£5 a Week Can Make All the Difference
An independent study concluded that if every adult in The UK spent £5 per week in their local shops and businesses, it would be worth £13.5 billion to the local economy over the course of a year.
If you’re looking for a straightforward way to support your local businesses, this makes for an excellent benchmark. That’s just £20 - £25 a month that supports families, your community and the economy; all the while presenting you with an opportunity to find and enjoy unique and exciting products and services from your local businesses.
Sometimes, changing the world only requires a small commitment from everyone that compounds over time. Each time you spend your money, you are casting the vote for the kind of world you want to live in. By supporting local, you are casting a vote for a world where your community prospers together, a place where job opportunities put people before profit and where your local economy is prioritised to provide the services that matter to your area first and foremost.
How to Shop Local During Isolation
Of course, the points above are all very well and good except for the fact that local businesses have closed their doors for now as a result of Coronavirus.
So how can we shop local when we’re isolating?
There are a number of ways that we can still support our businesses and local communities from the comfort of our own homes. Whether that’s by finding ways to purchase their goods or to support what else they’re doing during this time.
We’ve listed some of the best ideas to support local below:
Visit Their Websites
Lots of your local businesses will have websites. In fact, since the coronavirus shut down the high street, many of those who didn’t have one originally have since created one or are in the process of doing so.
No doubt you’ll know the names of many of your favourite local shops that you can simply enter into Google or search on Facebook to find their websites.
Alternatively, you can generally find what you’re looking for through a quick search using your town name followed by what you need to buy.
Their websites will provide you with details as to whether or not you can still order from them during this time, what processes they have in place for the time being and what else they are doing that you could potentially support them with.
Join Local Social Media Communities
Are there any groups on social media that you can join? Many towns will have a Facebook community that you can participate in and find out what’s happening in your area.
Many local business owners will be a part of these communities and may be looking for support in some of their coronavirus initiatives. These groups are a great way to find out how you can get involved and collaborate within your community.
If there isn’t one already, why not create it yourself! Community groups are often easy to get started simply by adding who you know and asking them to invite who they know and so on and so forth. This could prove to be a hugely valuable resource to connect with your fellow townsfolk and support the area you live in.
Order a Takeaway
Sometimes the simple ideas are the best. Many of your local takeaways will still be operating and are dependent on your custom. What’s more is that a number of local restaurants have started offering a similar service to keep their operations running throughout this time.
Why not have a browse online to see what’s available? You’ll be supporting your local restaurants and who doesn’t love a takeaway every once in a while!
Buy a Gift Card
You may not be able to purchase goods and services from some of your local businesses during this time, but many are offering the choice of buying a gift card for when they do re-open.
Gift cards make a wonderful present for anyone. Allowing them to treat themselves at a shop of your choice. You could even take the time to purchase one for yourself with the intention of visiting when they reopen. This helps to support them while their doors aren’t open and they’re not able to sell their stock.
Create a Shopping Guide for Your Local Area
We love that you’ve taken the time to find out more about supporting your community. Not everyone is yet aware of the impacts of their spending though.
If you feel passionately about being able to support your local shops and services, why not create resources to help convey your message? There are tons of free resources online to help you do so.
The infographic above was made using Canva. They provide hundreds of free-to-use templates and graphics to help you create posts, documents, flyers and more. If you’ve got a creative streak in you, there’s nothing to stop you creating powerful messages to share as you please.
If you’re not ready to get stuck into some designs, you can download our infographic for free. Simply click on the image, when it opens in a new window, right-click the image and save it to your computer. Please feel free to share it across your social platforms or website. We can also supply you with a print ready .pdf if you’d like to distribute it locally.
Reviews are a powerful resource that local businesses can use in their marketing to grow. They instill trust in new, prospective customers and can be a crucial factor when making a sale.
Many businesses will be taking this time to work on their websites and marketing strategies. If you’ve shopped with them before, no doubt they would hugely appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and provide them with a helpful testimonial.
If they have a website, there will likely be a contact form to submit your thoughts. Alternatively, you may find spaces to provide feedback on Facebook, Trustpilot and Google.
Engage with Them on Social
If you’re on social media, you’ll know how it feels when someone likes, shares or comments on your posts. For businesses, the excitement doubles as engagement helps them to reach more people and grow their presence.
For those businesses who are still promoting on social, you can help them to achieve their goals by sharing and commenting on their activity. Hopefully, this will help them to build stronger profiles for the future and spread their news and updates to other members of the local community.
Start a Community Activity
So now that you are connected to your community, there are even more ways you can come together, connect with one another and support your locality.
You can reach out to local businesses to see if they might be interested in taking part in competitions or online events to raise awareness and money. Such as a raffle, a quiz night or online meetup.
Everyone is desperate for everything to go back to normal and to start socialising with people again. While you do have to maintain social distancing rules, you can facilitate the interactions people so desperately want in their lives again, all the while helping your local businesses in the process.
Participate in #WeBuySmall Campaigns
There are lots of great campaigns online that are doing their part to help independent businesses over this pandemic and beyond such as Just A Card, Small Business Saturday and, of course, WeBuySmall.
We’re always on the hunt for new ideas to promote and publicise the great work of small businesses everywhere and it’s more important than ever now.
If you want to stay in the loop as to how you can participate, share ideas and promote through #WeBuySmall, you can sign up to our mailing list using the form below to be the first to know about the new and exciting opportunities on the horizon.
We hope this has given you some fresh new ideas and perspective on shopping locally in these difficult times. It’s still possible to support our shops and they are depending on us to help them through this.
Do you have your own ideas or initiatives underway? How are you supporting local in your area? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!