Tomorrow, the 6th of December, is Small Business Saturday. A day dedicated to celebrate, support and inspire small businesses. Small and medium sized enterprises (defined as having fewer than 250 employees) make up 99% of the total number of business in the country. Of these, an astonishing 96% are micro-businesses, with between 0 and 9 employees. These account for a third of all employment in Britain, and nearly a fifth of total turnover. Those are some pretty impressive numbers – micro businesses are a vital part of our economy.
By supporting small businesses, ie. by shopping them instead of in the big brands, you give directly back to the community. Up to 70p per £1 spent in an independent shop goes straight back to the local community – benefitting not only you, but also your neighbourhood. In addition, small business bring great variety to our high streets, which otherwise would be identical copies of each other, with the same big brands everywhere.
As well as the financial, societal, reasons to shop locally, are tons of other perks. Independent shops are more often than not led by people who have a passion for retail and the products they sell – there is a reason they set up shop after all. In micro-businesses in particular, you can expect the staff to be more involved, more knowledgeable and more engaged with the business and its customers. In huge branches of global brands this is harder to come by – the employees are just there to earn a living, few of them have the enthusiasm for the brand, the product or it customers.
Go into your local butcher and ask for some help choosing your meat and chances are you’ll get an informed, useful answer. Likewise if you go in to a gift shop – ask the owner for some help choosing and you’re likely to be taken good care of. In my experience, shop owners love it when people show interest in their products. You will have much better shopping experience and you’ll contribute towards your community.
So why not make life a little easier for yourself this December – avoid the huge brands, the big sweaty queues camouflaged as streets (I’m talking to you, Oxford Street) and take instead a relaxing stroll around the independent shops in your area? You might come across brands and products you haven’t seen before, a new favourite café or a great design shop. And rest assured that the money you spend are put to good use, feeding back into the area and the people who live there.