'Support small', 'shop local', 'buy local or lose local', you are bound to have heard at least one of these many phrases over the past twelve months. But how about actually taking action as suggested in these slogans? Can you honestly say you have whole-heartedly shopped small and local recently or regularly, showing your support for the independent businesses near you.
If the answer is no, then you certainly aren't alone, many consumers don't realise just how much power they wield by showing support for small independent businesses and cutting down their reliance on big business.
Admittedly, with the ever increasing convenience of online shopping, home deliveries and the expanding influence of major retailers, it is never been easier to shop without fully realising how much power every pound you spend has in terms of supporting the local economy and independent retailers.
For example, whilst the rise of major bargain discount stores has seen rapid growth and expansion, with their range of cheap products varying from beauty products to homeware, from garden plants to craft products. It is easy to see the appeal of picking up everything in a one stop shop.
Additionally, in terms of online shopping, global retailers such as Amazon has seen meteoric rises, helped largely due to the pandemic, offering such unbeatable courier services, like next day delivery, which are simply impossible for local independent businesses, which do have an online presence to compete with.
Alarmingly, it seems that big businesses are not content with their existing market share, but feel they need to now extend their over-arching reach into other viable marketplaces which further decimate the small independents whose livelihoods rely on their trade, (often specialised). Never has this been more demonstrated than in the way in which big business is destroying the florist industry.
In a convenience based society, where everyone wants everything now, whilst also wanting to spend as little as possible, this climate has allowed supermarkets and other major retailers to gradually erode the floristry trade. Evidenced only by the bulk buying power of big companies which can squeeze profit margins, (or even absorb loss leaders), pushing down not just the price of flowers but also undermining the years of education and qualifications needed to become a professional florist.
For instance, a pre-made bouquet in Asda might cost you £20, whilst a local florist charges £25 - the difference, not simply being down to price, but also with a florist you will have fresher blooms, have an arrangement created using far more knowledge and skill which in turn makes the bouquet more beautiful, and better yet, it will be longer lasting than the '5 days of freshness' often guaranteed by supermarkets.
But wait, 'what about the florists working in Morrisons?', you might ask. Well, the simple truth is, Morrisons might well seem to be atoning for their part in years spent eroding the local florists craft, but the fact that they now offer those florists, whom they indirectly may have helped drive out of business, chance of employment, though notably on a much lower wage, just shows the sheer hypocrisy and indifference these big business have over small independents.
In comparison, it could be argued that Amazon's introduction of small business incentives are a way to try and fill the gap, that they themselves created, provided that the big business itself can take a cut of the small independents profits, as well as taking fees for promotion, distribution, etc - they certainly aren't offering these small business incentives to try to atone and heal their conscious.
Additionally, whilst it can be argued that big businesses are simply adapting to meet consumer demand, it is the consumer mindset that needs to be changed. In a world of seemingly never-ending economic turmoil and rapidly increasing costs, it's important for a customer to realise just how much value they can hold in their hand with their spending. In terms of advice, the way to look at every pound you spend is, would you rather contribute to a board of faceless Director's having extra zeros added to their pay checks, or would you rather support an independent and help the local economy directly.
Without this drastically needed change in consumer mindsets and spending habits, we may be on the precipice of a small business armageddon in the UK - a fact that is all the more distressing given that we are no longer in the European Union and may become a country stagnating with only big businesses to turn to for retail.