Here's an idea that might just change the nation – and it's something for both consumers (ie all of us!) and business owners to think about…
As Aussies, we have all heard about the “Australian Made” campaign designed to help keep money in country and to support our economy. Research published by the Industry Capability Network shows that for every $1 million of new or retained manufacturing business in Australia, the following effects flow through the economy:
- $333,900 worth of tax revenue generated
- $985,000 worth of value-added generated
- $95,000 worth of welfare benefits saved
- 10 full-time jobs created
With numbers like that, it simply makes sense to buy products that have been made right here in Australia. But this holiday season, and all year round, there is something that you can do to help support businesses right in your neighbourhood.
Shop Local and Shop Small!
With the growth of ecommerce sites, many people are neglecting small businesses for the ease of shopping online. According to one study, about 94% of Australian consumers say that small businesses play an important part in the community but many of them admit to not helping small businesses thrive by failing to spend any money at their stores.
According to a recent Galaxy Poll:
- 90% of respondents said they feel sadness, sympathy or disappointment when small businesses close down in their community
- 57% feel guilty and regret that they didn’t do more to help support such businesses by purchasing products or services
- 58% believe small business gives the community identity
- 58% cent believe small businesses provides convenience
- 45% believe independent businesses deliver superior customer service
When shop owners and small businesses were asked for their input, two-thirds said that they feel forgotten by their local communities and 25% feel no connection at all to their local community.
This is such an important issue that our Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently spoke up and urged people to support their local small businesses — "We want to see these businesses flourish and we want to create the economic conditions that make it easier for small business to start, to grow, to expand, to employ and to invest… Small business is not just at the heart of economy but it's also at the heart of communities."
In the United States, a shop local campaign called the 3/50 Project provides easy steps for people to follow to better support local brick and mortal businesses. Their motto is simple – “Pick 3. Spend $50. Save Your Local Economy.” Ask yourself what three independently owned businesses you would miss if they were gone? Stop in, say hello and pick something up that makes you smile. By diverting $50 a month of your spending a month to local businesses instead of “big box stores, chain stores or international websites (for non-local businesses)” you are doing what is needed to help them thrive.
And when small businesses are thriving, the impact is far reaching. According to Anne Nalder, founder of the Small Business Association of Australia, "It's very imperative that people do support your small business, particularly in your own location. It means jobs; it means local jobs. When you've got a business that is surviving and making money, they can pay their taxes, they can do other things for the community."
Show Your Support for Small Businesses this Holiday Season
All you need to do is shop at small businesses, particularly in your own community, to show your support for Australia's smaller retailers and service providers. Let them know that you appreciate them and would miss them if they were gone.
Visit craft shops and boutiques for things like unique jewellery, pottery, scarves or wood crafts. Find a specialty store for home-made food items that can be given as gifts. And don’t forget to pick up something from the local bakery!
Or how about instead of giving actual “things” for gifts this year, why not consider getting gift certificates for services provided by a local business. It could be for something practical, an entertainment or recreation event or how about a special treat for something that the person would never get for herself?
Here some ideas to get you started…
- A gift certificate from a local hair salon or masseuse
- A health club membership or maybe the services of a personal trainer.
- A car wash or a full detailing inside and out
- A special spa day complete with manicure and pedicure
- Dinner for Two at a locally owned restaurant or café
- Gift certificate for a tune-up or oil change from a local mechanic
- Spring Cleaning from a local cleaner
- Tickets to see a play or ballet at the community theatre
- Cooking lessons or maybe the services of a personal chef
Mark your calendars! Get Rewarded for Shopping Small!
Although it's run by one of the giants(!), we commend American Express for their Shop Small Campaign running in November. According to American Express Australia's managing director Rachel Stocks, small businesses are the "backbone of our society" and people need to be more supportive of them to ensure they can prosper. "We are encouraging Australians to consider supporting small business … it's the right thing to do." And to their credit, American Express is doing their bit to help!
If you are an Australian-dollar American Express Card holder, they will even reward you for shopping local during the week of November 23 – 30, 2013 (you must register in advance). If you are a small business owner, you may want to check out the tips they have to help promote this event and kick of the holiday shopping season in a big way.
Remember, even after the holiday shopping season is over, you can make a big difference when you Shop Small and Shop Local!