With Christmas, almost upon us, I always think it is a great time to be promoting local businesses. I know from working with many local small businesses that they offer many great products and services throughout the year, however I think during the season of good will makes it an appropriate time to point out the many benefits gained from supporting your local firms and shops.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) ran Small Business Saturday, a recent campaign to encourage people to back their local small business’ this festive season. The campaign aimed to “celebrate the contribution made to the life of the nation by the UK’s 5.5 million small business owners”.

I know from my own experience the impact small firms can have on the local community and to the nation as a whole. I often see many small business owners and employees, going above and beyond to help their small business neighbours and local start-ups. This is an excellent time of year to check out the products and services small local businesses offer both now and the whole year round.

It would be great if the FSB’s campaign contributed to a movement that took consumers away from the large retailers and introduced them to people doing business in their very own towns. There is plenty of research and evidence to say that when we as consumers support our local business owners, we can gain many benefits that we don’t see from shopping at large, national chains.

Below are some of the best reasons to support your local entrepreneurs.

  • Improve the local economy
    Supporting local enterprise does really matter to your community. The FSB research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-size business, 63p is re-spent in the local area. This is compared to 40p in every £1 spent with a chain or larger business.
  • Job and Wages
    Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do
  • Entrepreneurship
    Entrepreneurship fuels the UK’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class
  • Competition
    A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.
  • Product Diversity
    A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.Independent shops often stock items which are made locally and aren’t available elsewhere. This may give you the opportunity to buy a dress by a fledgling designer with little chance of turning up to the office Christmas party wearing the same as someone else or the chance to give your niece or nephew a handmade toy that won’t be identical to everything they already have. Another option is the independent bookshops often stock titles by local authors that aren’t yet on the shelves of the major chains.
  • Community Well-Being
    Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centres, linking neighbours in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes. For instance, cycle shops, bookshops, cafes and craft shops often drum up custom by hosting events, from cycling groups to book clubs and children’s events. Of course, if the businesses are not supported, the local groups tend to disappear too.
  • It is the ethical choice
    Buying out-of-season produce, like strawberries in December, lowers your eco-friendly credentials. As does eating turkey and carrots that have been flown halfway round the world or wrapped in layers of plastic. When you shop at local butchers, bakers, farm shops and green grocers, it is likely that a good percentage of the produce has had a short field-to-plate journey. Along with supporting local farmers, it means the food is likely to contain more nutrients and have less packaging.
  • You might get a better deal or some good advice
    Independent retailers can use their discretion to reward regular custom, and it can mean you get discounts on the items you actually want to buy, rather than being tempted by multi-buy offers in the big chains. If you get to know your independent trader, they will get to know you personally and are in the great position to be able to recommend products to you that meet your specific needs or desire.

Buying local has benefits beyond mere convenience. When you support local business owners, you get a better level of service, as well as helping make your community a better place to live. This is in addition to the access to unique products that you usually can’t find in chain stores.

Whether you’re shopping, buying services or products, choosing where to go for a meal, or building a website – hard working, innovative small businesses in the UK should be the first place you should look. Whilst you can engage with a small business all year round, why not use this Christmas time to try out a local enterprise you have not used before, you will probably be pleasantly surprised.