SHOP SMALL THIS CHRISTMAS

It’s always important to support small and local businesses, and this Christmas even more! Many of these businesses are also more sustainable, meaning that your presents can have a small impact on the planet, while having a large impact on local communities. 

In the lead up to Christmas, many people’s minds jump straight to shopping. Decorating, mealtimes, gifts – the average UK household spends an extra £800 in the leadup to Christmas, providing a much-needed boost to the economy. This year especially, Christmas spending is sorely needed by many businesses, especially smaller ones. Almost 2/3 of small businesses in the UK report that the very existence of their business is under threat due to a slump in trade this year, putting 16.6 million jobs at risk. Small businesses contribute 52% of the £2.2tn turnover generated by the private sector and employ 60% of all private sector workers, so a threat to small businesses is a threat to our economy and countless communities too. 

It’s always important to support small and local businesses, and this year Christmas is a great opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. Many of these businesses are also more sustainable, meaning that your presents can have a small impact on the planet, while having a large impact on local communities. 

So, why should we support small businesses this Christmas (and always!)?
  1. They make a positive impact on the local economy. Small, local businesses encourage local spending and for other businesses to open in the area, drawing more entrepreneurship in and boosting local development. This helps the whole local community prosper and benefits local residents.
  2. Job creation. Small businesses create local jobs – as of 2015, US small businesses employed 58 million people, or 48% of the private workforce. In the UK this is even higher, at 61%. Local businesses help employ and train up local residents of all ages.
  3. They are more sustainable. Many small and local businesses have, by their very nature, more sustainable practices than massive corporations. This may be due to a shorter manufacturer to consumer journey, reducing pollution from transport, and improving transparency about ingredients and manufacture methods. They may produce goods in small batches and source local ingredients too. This isn’t always the case though, so make sure to enquire!
  4. You make a difference to someone’s life. Shopping at Amazon may be convenient, but how much does your money make a difference? By shopping locally and at small businesses, your custom helps support someone doing what they love. It puts food on the table and helps their family – that’s something you can feel good about!
  5. Better customer-consumer relationship. It is hard (or even impossible) to form a good relationship to a faceless corporation, but shopping local and small businesses can be incredibly rewarding, as you can get to know the people who run the business. 
So now we know the benefits of shopping local, how can we better support these businesses?
  1. Buy gift cards. If you’re not sure what to purchase someone as a gift, get a gift card to your favourite small business instead. This means the shop is guaranteed your custom, and it also means you introduce someone else to that shop!
  2. Support them on social media. Without large marketing budgets, small businesses are often unable to get the reach they deserve. Social media is a great way for these businesses to reach more potential customers, and by following, liking, saving and sharing online, you’re helping them do what can be an extremely difficult job. This is also free so even if you can’t afford their products, you can still support them this way!
  3. Find small business collectives – online collectives share a range of hand-picked small businesses, where you can find lots of different items. Know the Origin is a collective of brands that promote sustainability and transparency.
  4.  Shop Black-owned businesses. Black-owned businesses are more likely to hire from local communities, and provide a trickle-down effect on local area, benefitting everyone. People from minority ethnic groups, particularly black African, black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi minorities, face much higher risks of unemployment and have much lower levels of earnings than do their white British counterparts over the life course. Support these communities by looking at Jamii, a collective of small, Black-owned brands.
  5. Write a positive review. Many brands and businesses rely on word of mouth for their custom, and online review sites like Trustpilot and Google reviews can spread the word even further. If you had a good experience, leave them a nice review – it helps more than you know!

As you can see, there are so many ways to support local and small businesses this Christmas. When you buy from them, you make an individual very happy, and when you buy a gift for someone else, you’re spreading that joy even further! What are your top tips for supporting small and local businesses? Are you shopping local this Christmas? 

Small UK-based businesses available on The Forward Lab