There have always been good reasons to shop at local stores and services. Studies have shown that when consumers spend their money at independent, locally owned businesses, more of that money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms, contributing to a stronger economic base in the community. Local business owners create jobs and hire local residents. They live in the community and are invested in its future, supporting community organizations and fundraisers, sports teams, and local tourism initiatives. Small businesses tend to require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services than their big brand counterparts. A vibrant local business sector creates a unique community space that is enticing, engaging and that attracts tourism dollars.

These are just a few examples of the benefits of supporting local businesses. Now we can add another critical reason to the list – economic recovery.  While a twenty-five percent drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) occurred in the second quarter of 2020, economic activity began to rebound in the summer and consumers started spending again.  Encouragement to support neighbourhood businesses by shopping locally is coming from all quarters as the economy struggles to emerge from the financial impacts of the pandemic. Local municipalities, BIAs, Boards of Trade, and individual business owners are asking consumers to show local entrepreneurs some extra love during these difficult times. Even large corporations like American Express and the Royal Bank of Canada have been promoting local spending by offering incentives through their respective credit card programs. All these efforts are intended to strengthen local economies.

According to a recent CBC report, polls suggest most Canadians agree with the idea of local shopping and are increasingly aware of the need to support small businesses in their communities. American Express Canada said 83 per cent of participants in an online poll in June agreed it was time to support the small business community, while 76 per cent said they were "determined to shop local more than in the past." (www.cbc.ca)

For consumers who want to support local businesses but prefer the convenience of online purchasing, more and more local owners are offering their products and services both in house and online. Consumers can enjoy the convenience of online shopping and the satisfaction of knowing they’ve kept their dollars in the community. Dufferin County’s Shop In Dufferin website is a user friendly portal to dozens of area businesses. Consumers can browse by category and quickly link to their favourite shop’s website where online shopping is available. Visit Shop In Dufferin at www.dufferincounty.ca.  Shop Downtown Orangeville is another service that allows area residents to shop at local retailers from the comfort of their own homes. Enjoy this online shopping experience at www.shopdowntownorangeville.ca and know that by making your next purchase at a local business you have contributed to the viability of the local economy.

Businesses are the engine that will pull Canada’s economy through this crisis and a strong local business sector will promote a resilient community. The next time you search for a product online, check your local suppliers first. They may have everything you need.

 

 

Ellen Sinclair is the Co-ordinator of the Orangeville & Area Small Business Enterprise Centre. She can be reached at esinclair@orangeville.ca or 519-941-0440 ext. 2270. To sign up for notifications of SBEC programs and events visit www.orangevillebusiness.ca/subscribe.