The recent troubles at House of Fraser highlight once again the pressures faced by high street retailers. But the pronouncement by their new owner Mike Ashley that he wants to turn HoF into the “Harrods of the High Street” makes us wonder – is that actually what we need? Might it be better to encourage people to buy local, from smaller independent retailers?
Of course, it doesn’t mean much to us here in Fenland, with the nearest House of Fraser store being 120 miles round trip. We don’t have large department stores in our market towns, with the retail sector being dominated by small independent shops. There is evidence that more people are turning to these smaller independent stores. 2016 research from The Leadership Factor found that one in five people were shopping with independent retailers more than they had a year previously. Interestingly, in the 18-24 year old bracket, this figure rose to 30%.
Spending money in a local shop has a dramatic impact on the local economy. Research shows that if you spend £10 in a local shop, an additional £50 goes back into the local economy. The local shop owner puts that money back by paying wages to a local person, spending money in local pubs and restaurants, developing locally owned supply chains and so on.
So whilst online and large retailers may offer benefits such as ease, breadth of choice and not having to move from the comfort of your sofa, there are also many advantages of shopping local. Aside from the opportunity to buy more unique and innovative products than are available from large retail outlets, and the improved quality of customer service, buying local has a strong, positive impact on the local economy. And if you’re needing any more reasons why you should shop with your local retailer instead of a chain, here’s 15 of the best reasons to buy local.