Small businesses have had a rough ride over the past few years. Many are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic and today they're facing a cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation. Now, more than ever, small businesses need our support.
At First Mile, we think more people should shop at small, local businesses when they can, rather than larger, multinational corporations. That's why we're supporting Small Business Saturday, which is kicking off with a 10-year anniversary tour in the UK, starting in November and ending on Saturday, 3 December.
Set up by American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages everyone to ‘shop small'. The AMEX Shop Small scheme helps American Express customers earn rewards for shopping at participating local shops and offers discounts and rewards to businesses who sign up to American Express.
Here are 10 good reasons to shop at small, local businesses:
1. Supports local communities and the economy
Shopping in your local small businesses injects more money into the local economy. Research by Visa discovered that shopping locally can double the amount of money retained in the local economy.
Successful local businesses bring colour and variety to an area, attracting more tourists (think of Camden or Manchester) and boosting the prices of nearby homes. Bookshops and cafes often host events that encourage a positive community feeling.
Local businesses also create revenue that supports council services, such as libraries, parks and roads.
2. Create local jobs
Supporting your local businesses creates jobs in your community, which in turns makes your area a better place to live and work. These jobs provide opportunities for new, young entrepreneurs, designers and retailers.
3. Benefit the environment
If you choose to shop locally, you're making a positive environmental impact.
Because they tend to have localised supply chains and buy only what they need, local shops and other businesses have fewer food miles and a smaller carbon footprint. When you buy from a local butchers or farm shop, that produce has usually had a short ‘field-to-fork' journey. It's also likely to have less plastic packaging.
In contrast, the long and complex supply chains of big businesses create more greenhouse gas emissions and can also hide destructive impacts on people and the planet. We're used to being able to buy out-of-season produce at our nearest big supermarket – but this has been flown halfway round the world and is usually wrapped in plastic.
4. Get great deals and personal service
Just like the bigger stores, independent retailers offer reward schemes to regular customers. However, they'll often go the extra mile by ordering in items you want or recommending suitable products. They'll even let you taste samples before buying.
5. Find originality and choice
Small and local businesses provide a range of unique products that aren't mass produced. If you want an original, quirky present, you're more likely to find it in an independent shop than a huge store. Local shops support local designers, artists and authors, as well as local food producers and growers, so you can buy products that are unique to the area.
6. Enjoy the convenience
Popping down to your local shops is easy. And you're more likely to walk or cycle, which reduces air pollution and traffic congestion.
You may not even have to leave your house. Many farm shops offer veg-box schemes that will deliver organic, local produce straight to your home. And many local businesses now offer home delivery and click & collect
7. Find quality, not quantity
Local businesses can't compete with larger chain stores in terms of quantity, but they don't need to. Their focus is on the high quality of the things they sell instead.
8. Support local charities
Many local business owners donate to local charities, so by shopping local you're helping to increase donations to the non-profits in your community.
9. Encourage British entrepreneurs
By supporting your local businesses, you're helping the next generation of young entrepreneurs.
For instance, as more people turn against fast fashion, new creatives and innovators are setting up affordable sustainable clothing brands (like these Black-owned small fashion brands).
10. Discover sustainable shopping options in the run-up to Christmas
If you want to buy Christmas gifts that are better for the planet this year, choose to buy local. You'll be minimising your carbon footprint and supporting your community.
How does First Mile support small businesses?
First Mile helps small businesses to save money, increase their recycling rates and lower their carbon footprint. We offer 24/7 support, pay-as-you-go ordering and free next-day sack delivery. We’re a zero-to-landfill recycling company, so all our business waste is used to generate green energy.