THE CASE FOR BUYING LOCAL

For those who have been following this column for the last decade, you will know how passionate I am about promoting the concept of local shopping, especially within North Wales where our high streets have been badly affected in recent years by the development of out of town centres.

That is why I loved a recent article that described how a major American corporation was going on the road to promote local shopping to support the economy.

Senior executives from the accountancy software company Sage, which sells mainly to small and medium-sized businesses, are traversing the USA in a large bus to educate consumers as to how important it is to shop and buy services from local businesses.

And whilst this is not entirely altruistic, it is a refreshing change to see a large business actually going out of its way to support local firms.

Indeed, some of the facts produced by Sage on the impact of local purchasing should open the eyes of politicians and policymakers who have, to date, been lukewarm about properly promoting this concept within Wales.

For example, local retailers return up to 68 percent of their revenue to the local economy in the form of locally purchased wages, goods, services, profits and donations whereas larger businesses spend only 43 percent locally.

And local business owners lead by example.

In the USA, entrepreneurs support other local businesses with 70 per cent purchasing goods and services for their businesses locally and 83 per cent shopping locally for their personal requirements.

Perhaps the most fascinating fact come from a study from San Francisco, where it was estimated that switching just ten per cent of spending away from high street chains to local businesses would generate $192 million (or £124 million) in additional economic activity and 1,300 new jobs.

Why Buy Local Infographic
Source: eLocal.com

To some extent, it is disappointing that it has taken a large business to raise awareness of what entrepreneurs up and down high streets across Wales have known for years, namely that shopping at small local businesses boosts the economy.

Nevertheless, this should be a wake-up call not only for those who manage our economies in Westminster and Cardiff Bay but to each and every one of us who bemoan the loss of shops along the high street but who hardly think twice before popping down to our local supermarket to buy most of our food and supplies.

Yes, we all do it and make excuses that it is difficult to find the time to shop locally given the convenience of out of town shopping centres.

But if we don’t make the effort, what right do we have to complain when another small shop closes down?

More importantly, local shops produce quality products that are rarely found within high street supermarkets.

After spending a few days on the Llŷn Peninsula last week, it was great to find the best wine at Gwin Llŷn in Pwllheli, the most exquisite meat at J&D Povey in Chwilog and the freshest bread at Islyn Bakery in Aberdaron.

I am sure the same is true in towns across North Wales and yet we constantly fail to see the superb products and services that we have literally on our doorsteps because, in our busy lives, it seems easier to spend an hour wandering around a supermarket with a trolley than walking up and down our high streets visiting our local shops.

Yet as Sage as shown, changing our shopping habits could make a real contribution to the economic viability of communities across North Wales.

So the next time you are about to pop down the supermarket, think about whether you could go to a local shop instead and help make a real difference to your local economy.

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