We don’t need to tell you how devastating this year has been for the economy. While many people have been furloughed and paid to stay at home, many more businesses have gone into administration as shops were forced to close and only essential stores were allowed to trade.
Many of the huge giants of industry which have a strong online presence have not only weathered the storm, but have positively made a killing from people stuck at home with little to do but shop online, while others have gone into administration.
So, I want to appeal to you to shop local where you can this Christmas, and hopefully next year too. I’m taking a much broader view than just supporting us here at the Simply Devine Hat Shop. Local high streets were already suffering the burden of extortionate business rates and reduced footfall due to the giants of industry taking largest share of the online market. Look around many suburban towns which now have an abundance of charity shops, which often pay considerably less in business rates. (Not that we have anything against charity shops, after all, charities are much needed at the moment too).
The large supermarkets have taken advantage of selling more than just food, and with their huge marketing budgets, are able to lay out their wares through persistent television advertising.
This year in particular I would like to offer an alternative for one-off gifts, and for more personally chosen items for the festive season and beyond.
Local independent shops can offer goods which are not mass-produced. And while they don’t all necessarily have websites; you can still shop in comfort online through portal sites such as Etsy or NotOntheHighStreet. These are businesses – often sole traders – which produce beautiful bespoke or hand-made gifts. Those businesses – even small ones – which do have their own websites or Facebook pages give the option to do a “click and collect” service for their local customers. Our own website: simplydevine.co.uk has a number of gifts for special occasions. A reminder that we don’t just do beautiful ladies hats and fascinators, but we do have a small collection of gifts and customers can either click and collect or buy online.
At the start of this year there were almost six million small businesses in the UK, employing 13.3 million people and accounting for an estimation £2.3 trillion turnover. That’s a lot of people paying tax into the government coffers. Who knows what the figure will be next year?
Simply Devine was honoured to be one of the SmallBusiness100 companies a couple of years ago, chosen by the Small Business Saturday campaign, and sponsored by American Express, to encourage consumers to buy from small businesses. This focuses on a specific day – the first Saturday in December – to promote independent shopkeepers in your town.
Remember your local butcher, greengrocer, hardware store, tea shop, book store, toy shop or deli this year when you’re shopping for your festive treats. Any good marketeer will tell you that people largely do business with people – which is true of any company, not just those in the retail trade. How many customers swap accountants, gardeners, copywriters, cleaners or whatever when they move to another company? People in business, whether shopkeepers or professionals, have a reputation and have built up a rapport with their customers which is not always easy for firms to replicate. They’re the ones with a warm smile on a cold day, even though they’ve been up at the crack of dawn to get to the wholesaler – and they’re the ones who will still be open on Christmas Eve when you’ve run out of milk or nappies.
So please, if you can buy from a local business, please do. They might not be there next time.