Home > The Monday Musings Column > on local trading

on local trading

There are a lot of posts on social media exhorting the benefits of trading locally and supporting small businesses near you. It is all very laudable and I do my bit, but I question the anti big business argument that is bandied around to support local trading.

I have run small businesses for almost twenty years, but none of these have been targeted on my local area. My horizons have always been much wider and I have traded internationally from the start as well as UK wide, but I have tried to support my local business community both professionally and as an individual.

My motive has been purely selfish in that I like, regardless of whether I have my business or personal hat on, to be able to deal face to face with suppliers and I can do that without travelling too far then I am much happier. It saves me time for one thing, but whilst I am happy to deal with local suppliers I have no issues with using the big chains and, especially when not on my own turf, prefer them because I know what I am getting.

I don’t care if large corporations pay very little in tax. It is not their fault if those opportunities are available to them. How many of us voluntarily pay extra tax? Certainly in the days when I was paying 40% tax I never felt any need to ring up the Revenue mob and ask them to round it upon to 50%. These big corporations employ thousands of people around the country who all pay their own income tax and spend what they have in whatever way they can. Some of that will be spent in the shops where they live so that money goes into the local community.

There is this implied fallacy that all money spend with a global brand somehow vanishes into offshore pockets. It doesn’t all go that way. Shopping, and spending, patterns have shifted radically over the last four months and many large brands are in trouble. If they fail there will be a lot more people out of work than if a few local shops close. It isn’t just the stores; there are the warehouses and distribution networks, manufacturers and packers and many more who make up the supply chains. They all provide employment that puts money into local communities.

What the world will lo0k like in another four months I have no idea. Some of my spending has shifted to local suppliers because it has been easier to deal with them than with big chains that are temporarily closed. I have gained a fruit and veg box supplier and a fishmonger that I buy from on-line and have the produced delivered. My butcher has also expanded his on-line business and so I use that rather than drive to browse and choose from his counter.

Other local businesses have lost my custom though, not through any fault of their own. The weekly pub lunches thinly disguised as business meetings have ceased as have the ones in coffee shops along with the casual spending in the shops in those nearby towns en-route from car park to venue. Much of the latter affects charity shops where I would inevitably emerge with a book or two if nothing else.

The reality is that we, the consumers, drive the market. Yes we respond to advertising and all that, but it is us who spend our cash in the way that we want to. If we don’t want to shop in the High Streets then we won’t and that is the way it is for now. This year has simply exacerbated things, but you cannot blame it alone. We are selfish people and will not pay higher prices locally when we can get stuff delivered for less. I am as guilty as any and, as I potter around doing something and an idea for a purchase flashes into my mind I am as likely as not to pull out my ‘phone and make the purchase.

Local trading was once the only way to buy, but the concept of the High Street is barley 200 years old. If it is going to die here it will as it has done in the USA and we need to accept that. Let’s move with the times and not waste government money, local or central, in trying to prop up something that is beyond help.

There will always be a place for the small business as much as there will always be a place for the big ones as long as both can offer us something that we want. It will be what we make it and we will live with what we get.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: