Buying Local – How exactly does it boost our local economy and help our communities thrive?
Liz Abell from The Diverse Regeneration Company, explains how money spent locally creates a vital ‘circle of life’ that helps maintain our communities and our longer-term local economic stability.
A report from data agency Kantar, found that 65 per cent of UK consumers believe that ‘local shops and businesses are important to the community.’ We probably all understand this to be true but maybe we don’t really understand how or why it is so important or the differences it really makes.
Well certainly in the case of local food and farming, it probably comes as no surprise that if we can source it locally it means fewer carbon emissions from fewer miles travelled, will often be fresher, better quality, will taste better and is more likely to be ‘plastic free’ in terms of packaging. On top of all these benefits money is reinvested back into the local economy, creating more jobs and improving job security.
Even the larger supermarket chains are now recognising the importance of offering local produce as a choice to their customers. One such local food producer that we’ve been proud to support and work with is ‘Clive’s Pies’ (based in Dartmouth, South Devon) which are now being stocked in Morrisons, Waitrose and Ocado.
Wanting to move back home to Devon from their lives in London, Sally and Chris Carson took over Clive’s Pies in 2003 and are now working flat out for the growing demand of their 100% organic, plant based pastry pies. To meet this demand the business has recently moved to new purpose built premises in Dartmouth, four times the size of the original home and has been recruiting locals to expand the team. Clive’s Pies also uses fresh organic veg, grown at Riverford Farm, just up the road in Totnes. This company offers a great example of not only keeping food miles low, but of local employment and keeping money circulating in the local economy.
A number of research companies have been taking a closer look at how money flows in and out of areas and have noticed profound economic impacts of keeping money within a community. This flow of money in and out can quite literally make all the difference to a community, town or even village’s survival. Research by The New Economics Foundation, found that twice the money spent locally at a farmers market, in comparison to that spent in a supermarket, would stay within the local community. The community can then benefit by spending it on services, support facilities and investment in new businesses and jobs. This in turn also means money spent locally can help save our towns from becoming devoid of local shops and services and turning into ghost towns.
Buying local can also help identify gaps in the market, giving room for new businesses or entrepreneurs to step in and fill a need. For instance, if more people were looking to buy bread on their local high street, but there was no bakery available, it would only be a short-term gap before someone would pick up the mantle and offer this service, once again adding to local shops that keep money within the community and creating more local jobs.
Perhaps surprisingly, buying local also has implications on a more global scale and not just with environmental factors. We should give important consideration to the potential of fluctuating global markets and impending changes of our exit from Europe and our ability to easily import products from overseas. Just a small increase in exchange rates or the rise of oil prices globally could see the cost of many imported products rising, affecting the spending money in all our pockets. Therefore if we can give more support to our own producers and manufacturers, this will in turn give us more resilience to cope with any future global fluctuations – giving us greater buying options and buying power.
Another perhaps overlooked bonus to buying local, which we’ve particularly seen during the past few months, is its ability to give us a vital source of human contact, helping us all stay mentally and socially healthy, through the giving and taking of support from those we see whilst out and about. This of course helps reduce the costs and strain on our health services, leaving our councils with more money to spend on other vital projects.
As you can see, buying local products, using local services and supporting our local manufacturers, creates a ‘circle of life’ to the money we spend and gives us so much more than just a feel good factor! As such I would urge you wherever and whenever possible to support the amazing local businesses and food producers we have in the region. So please think local and buy local.
Liz Abell, Managing Director, The Diverse Regeneration Company