11 May 2009

The Importance of Keeping it Local

Although small firms employ over fifty-eight per cent of the private sector workforce and contribute more than 50% of the UK turnover, the expansion of large national and international companies into every corner of British industry is heavily responsible for the demise of local trade.

“Expansion” has become a scary word to local traders, especially when names such as Tesco are mentioned in the same breath. Yet, it is a fact that our economy is driven by small businesses and the case for keeping small retailers and businesses in our local communities is overwhelming.

Leaflet distribution firms within the tourism and leisure sectors are no less prey to large ‘out of town’ companies moving in and attempting to put them out of business. There have been instances over the last few years where the ‘big boys’ have come into an area and proceeded to drastically undercut local firms. Inevitably, once the 'small fry' has been removed, prices increase dramatically, and by the time tourism operators realise that service isn’t quite what it used to be, there is no longer a credible alternative.

So, why is it so important to use local companies to distribute and display promotional literature? Well, aside from obvious reasons such as their in-depth and long-standing knowledge of an area and its people, there is the fact that smaller firms usually have a personal interest in the survival of other businesses in their neighbourhoods – indeed, their proprietors and employees frequently have family members and friends whose livelihoods depend on the continued success of nearby attractions, leisure facilities, hotels, pubs and restaurants. Remove the local element and you are left with a bunch of fat-cat business people with little or no interest in a particular town or region - except, of course, when it comes to lining their own pockets.

If you are concerned about the demise of local firms, it may interest you to learn that the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is actively campaigning to stem the tide of business closures and defend the choice and diversity customers deserve. It was inspired by FSB members and its message is now being delivered in local communities across the country. You can sign their Keep Trade Local petition right here.

If you have any comments regarding this or any other matter, please feel free to post a message here or drop us a line.


Dr Bruce Hoag said...

Local businesses are forced out for only one reason: their customers choose to shop with the "big boys." If consumers really wanted to support their local businesses, then they would. The general public, however, practices an econommic hypocrisy: They're more than happy to sign a petition, but they won't spend the extra pound or two so that their local shop stays in business.

Dr Bruce Hoag
Organizational Psychologist

ruralwalesdirect said...

So who are the big boys coming in to the North west and Mid wales region ?

Paula Bardell-Hedley said...

Thanks for your comment, Dr Hoag, but I'm afraid that I can't entirely agree with you. Speaking personally, I always try to hire local tradespeople, use my village shop and support local businesses in general - and I'm not the only one. Naturally, people want to save their pennies (especially during a recession), but opting for the biggest doesn't always equate to saving money in the long run. As I have found on numerous ocassions, using firms whose head offices are usually based many miles away can be a stressful and sometimes costly experience. When you have a query or a complaint, how often are you directed to a call centre in a foreign country? The telephone operators are perfectly pleasant but it's rare to speak to someone who can actually help you. This sort of thing can cause days or weeks of frustration, and in the end, nobody really cares about you or your problem. How much simpler to use a small, possibly family-run, company up the road - you can speak to an actual person and explain your problem face-to-face. I could go on but this has already become too long. Anyhow, I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from...