It’s true to say that the internet has changed the way people shop. We can now find whatever we want or need online and have it delivered right to our doorsteps. But this convenience comes at a cost: It takes away from the local economy by not supporting small businesses local to us.

Most people would agree that communities form the backbone of any group. And therefore, community support is important for all types of groups, including online communities, which are an important part of our society and need to be supported as well.

The trends

The good news is that buyers are more likely to shop local than ever before. For example, pre-Covid support for UK retail sales increased year-on-year, with shoppers increasingly looking to shop locally.

Let’s see why there are many benefits to buying from your local small business…

The convenience (and the environment)

Local shops offer the convenience of being able to walk in and buy what you need without having to drive or search for parking. They also have a greater chance of carrying the items that are needed. And in terms of feeling part of the community, you can’t beat contributing to the local economy.

On the subject of not having to drive for miles, shopping local is better for the environment. Plus, local shops often stock locally sourced goods, which not only supports the local economy, but also reduces transport times and costs of the goods. This has a positive impact on their carbon footprint.

Celebrating local

A small business adds character to a town. In a world that has become increasingly dominated by chain stores, a local business’s branding is unique and often quirky, adding something different to your High Street. Independent retailers offer an alternative experience and bring a much-needed breath of fresh air into areas populated by big brands.

Supporting local economies

When you shop at a locally-owned store, you’re helping the community by keeping your money in the area, supporting small businesses, and helping create jobs. The importance of shopping local can be seen by looking at how much money goes to taxes versus profits when you buy from a big-box retailer versus a small business.

A study found that when you buy from a big-box retailer, only 14p goes to your city or town’s tax base, while 68p goes to the company’s bottom line. When you buy from a small business, 47p goes to your city or town’s tax base and 53p goes to the company’s bottom line. Plus, the more money that local councils make in rent and rates, the more they can spend on supporting local infrastructure and public services.

Building relationships

One of the best things about shopping locally is that it helps build relationships with your neighbours and community members. Remember how nice it feels to stop and talk to people you know when you’re shopping local – not just to friends you might bump into, but small business owners or the person who always serves you at your local Post Office. It’s familiarity and it feels good.

You’ll often find that local business owners are friendly and engaging. They get to know their customers at a personal level and can often provide better advice about their products and services. Local traders value your business more since their survival depends on their good reputation and repeat business. They can often adapt their products to suit your personal requirements or source something bespoke, which big chains won’t do.

And finally, remember that every time you shop local, the business owner does a little dance inside their head. And knowing that you’re gifting someone a little happiness is a feel-good thing in itself.