Shop local in your city to positively impact jobs, community, and the environment

Over the past year, there has been a push to shop local to support our communities, the entrepreneurs that set up shop and employ people in them, and the overall Canadian economy. Many initiatives and articles popped up over the holiday season in 2020 to support local stores and businesses to further this message. Small businesses are being clear, “choose local or lose local.” The spirit of our cities and towns is driven by the eclectic mix of businesses in them. These businesses are the reason people travel to your hometown or stop off on a road trip - to experience the food, the drinks, the boutiques that make your city all that it is. Keeping these is key to the vibrancy of your community and the employment opportunities available.

Convenience is important to any busy shopper. Of surveyed Canadians, there was a 14% increase in intended local shopping with regards to holiday shopping in 2020. Despite the increase in the need to shop local, that’s not a huge number of Canadians who were willing to sacrifice convenience. Some larger companies saw a larger increase in sales, with Amazon’s jumping 40% in 2020. Small businesses are trying to offer shoppers the same convenience - over 150,000 have turned to e-commerce sites, such as Shopify, since March 2020 and you can find about a third of small businesses online now. This is great news for the shopper who is looking for options from home and it comes with benefits to shop local, too. When you shop local, your choice to spend within your own city has a positive impact on jobs, the community, and the environment and we want to show you just how much you can contribute.

On estimate, when you spend $100 at a local business, $68 of that stays within the community.

Shopping local supports jobs and employment

A stat that tends to blow people away when they learn about it is just how much of our labour market is reliant on small businesses. A small business is defined as a company with 1-99 employees, but it’s important to keep in mind that 55% of small businesses have fewer than four employees, which likely fits the bill for your local shops and restaurants.

The data from 2018 states that small businesses employed 8.4 million Canadians which is a staggering 69.9% of the total private labour force. Further, between 2013 and 2018, nearly 57% of net employment growth in the private sector came from small businesses. That’s over half a million jobs in five years all from small businesses. Small businesses contribute vastly more than medium-sized and large enterprises in terms of net employment growth.

When you shop local you help support these businesses that employ members of your local community. It encourages employment growth and investment in entrepreneurship. Small businesses comprise 97.9% of all employer businesses in Canada (2018) and are an important part of the economy overall.

Shopping local has a positive impact on your community and city

We all know that having those incredible local businesses positively impacts your community. Everyone loves having their neighbourhood coffee shop, bakery, clothing boutique, furniture maker right at their doorstep. It’s so satisfying to wander your streets and pop in and out of the local businesses to see what interesting and unique and sometimes handcrafted items they offer. There are even stories of towns opposing when the big retail chains set up shop because they feel so strongly about their neighbourhood go-tos. Aside from brightening the streets and offering unique products, local shops provide a lot to the community overall.

Small businesses give back to the community not just through employment but through charitable initiatives, too. In 2019, a study across small businesses in the United States found that small businesses donated 250% more than larger businesses to local nonprofits and community causes. Their impact on the local charity scene means that initiatives that matter most to your community receive the support they need.

Shopping local has a positive environmental impact

The positive environmental impact of shopping local can be seen by tracking your shipping footprint of your item from inception to manufacturing to delivery. There are many companies that offer products made in-house from start to finish and that’s really exciting.

Imagine that an entrepreneur creates handmade soaps by buying ingredients from nearby farms and sells their soaps to a small business in the city to end up in your cart. That’s pretty exciting and you’ve supported so many people along the way when buying! Your items likely traveled across the province to get to you and may take a bit longer so the retailer can fill a truck before sending it out for shipping.

A fuller truck is better for the environment but the expectations of Canadian shoppers have changed. Online shoppers in general want a wide array of options available for quick delivery. 63% of Canadians expect orders for e-commerce goods from the larger retailers to qualify for same-day delivery if placed by noon. Emptier trucks have to deliver to fewer customers who are geographically further apart in order to meet shipping deadlines. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are responsible for almost a quarter of the carbon footprint in the transportation category in the United States.

Choosing stores that make their products within Ontario also helps support the 750,000 jobs in manufacturing, as well, just like how eating local food encourages sustainable agriculture and producers.

Continue your positive impact by shopping local

Shopping locally is better for our communities, job opportunities, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and the economy and environment overall. When you make a conscious decision to shop local or buy made in Canada goods, you have a positive impact. It’s important to maintain the existence of shops and small business owners that make it so exciting to live in your city or town. Keep shopping and supporting local small businesses - you’re impacting more than you realize!

Samantha Lloyd

Samantha Lloyd is the co-founder and CEO of Metaranx.