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Shop locally for Christmas – It’s so much better for us all!

Independent Shops: Heartbeat of Your High Street – Shop Local to Keep Hungerford Healthy!

Now the beautiful Christmas lights are on and the Christmas gift buying season has started for real, the Hungerford Chamber of Commerce urges residents to shop local to keep the town thriving. Christmas takings can often account for a third and sometimes more of a retailer’s annual turnover. But what are the benefits for you, the customer, of shopping at independent businesses? It turns out there are many…

Local Economic and Community Benefits:

According to The Guardian, for every £1 spent in local independents up to 70p circulates back in to the local economy (compared to about 5p per pound when shopping on-line and out-of-town). This means that choosing to shop locally means those shops can continue to employ local people, contribute to community causes (such as the Christmas lights, the Extravaganza, and school PSAs) and support local suppliers.

Passion for their Business:

Independents really care about the items they sell (why else would they risk setting up a shop?). It hasn’t been scaled out from some head office – their stock has been carefully selected based upon what they know appeals to you and what they love and want to share with you. You need only to pop into the bookshop for personal recommendations – no algorithms in there, just a genuine passion for sharing good books.

Environmental Impact:

When you shop at a local butchers – like Christian Alba’s – or buy your fruit and veg from the market on a Wednesday, it is likely that a decent percentage of the produce has had a short field-to-fork journey which, along with supporting local farmers, means less packaging.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

Often small businesses are in the ideal position to offer more than just goods: they offer a service as well. Some examples: Martin & the Magpie not only gives advice about how to look after your new plant but can come to your house to decorate it for Christmas. Angela Knight Lingerie offers a true shopping ‘experience’ based on how her clothes make you feel. Libby Blakey uses her 20 years’ experience in interior design to bring her sought-after style to create homes of warmth and originality. Hungerford Bookshop offers a ‘book a month’ gift package. An independent retailer can offer bespoke, personal services in a way chains rarely can.

They Pay Their Taxes

On-line shops don’t have to worry about business rates, while out of town retail parks generally pay a lower rate than the high street. High-street shops pay a healthy share of corporation tax – enough per year, say, to pay for a student nurse – while on-line giants are highly adept at getting their tax bill low using methods which independents are unable to employ.

Fair Pricing

The ‘pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ philosophy doesn’t really work for the small shop. Selling products at full price means the creator, designer or supplier of the product actually gets paid properly for their work. We all know that price is a factor when buying – however, do not assume that on-line or chain retailers are necessarily cheaper. Every sale really matters to a small business (they really do do little jigs behind the counter sometimes). By shopping locally you get a free glow of satisfaction knowing you have benefited your high street and community (rather than giving an anonymous CEO another hefty bonus).

So why not enjoy talking to real people, experience the joy of hands-on browsing and the serendipity of finding things you didn’t know you were looking for, while also supporting your town. Shop local - shop independent!

Emma Milne-White is an owner of The Hungerford Bookshop and a member of Hungerford Chamber of Commerce.

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