The High Street is the life & soul of communities across Northern Ireland. Our local high street is essential for creating jobs, allowing small businesses to grow and boosting local economies. Small businesses are often run by families and people in your community such as family run department store, Menarys which has been a part of Bangor for nearly 22 years. These businesses have been hit the hardest over lockdowns which is why we’ve put together seven reasons you should consider shopping locally.

1. Support the Local Economy

Shopping at local businesses rather than a large chain is better for the economy of your community. Research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium sized business, an estimated 63p stays within the local economy, compared to 40p for a larger business. Therefore, by shopping locally you can do your bit to aid our local economy.

2. Create and Save Local Jobs

Supporting local businesses creates more job opportunities in local communities. Small, local businesses provide a large number of jobs to communities and are more likely to pay a higher average wage than their commercial chain competitors. Helping to grow the number of jobs available in your local area makes for a better community to live and work and overall helps create a healthy economy for the community.

3. Help the Environment

When shopping locally you’re more likely to walk or cycle to get there, this can cut air pollution and reduce traffic. If you shop at a local butchers, bakery, farm shop or greengrocer it is likely that the majority of products they offer has been sourced locally. This helps reduce the business’ carbon footprint and as a bonus for the consumer usually means that the food will have less packaging, contain more nutrients and taste fresher.

4. Help to Build Your Local Community

A booming high street can boost the potential of a village or town, offering locals more options of places to socialise and shop. If local businesses like book stores, cafes and craft shops are supported then this allows them to be able to offer additional services or host local events such as reading groups, kids clubs and more.

5. Get a Better Deal or Some Good Advice

Small Businesses often reward regular customers and are able to do so at their own discretion, meaning you could get discounts on items you’d actually like to purchase rather than being tempted by multi-buy offers for things you don’t need in larger chains. Local bakeries often throw in an extra treat for regulars, many grocers offer informal discounts and if you shop at local markets the vendors are usually prepared to negotiate on price. Local Retailers also are able to recommend products to you or give you advice on how best to use their products. For example, local clothing stores are able to offer more personal assistance while you’re shopping and help you find what you’re looking for.

6. Safer Way to Shop

Local Retailers have worked hard to ensure their stores are as safe as possible, limiting the number of customers allowed in at one time, providing sanitation stations and installing screens to protect their customers and staff. As many local retailers also operate in smaller spaces than larger chain competitors it’s also easier for them to keep an eye on customer numbers and ensure shoppers are sanitising and wearing face coverings when necessary.

7. Unique Choices

Local Businesses often stock items that larger retailers won’t like locally made smaller brands that aren’t mass produced. This means customers can discover products they wouldn’t usually have found while bringing originality and variety back into the local community.

Many local business owners have struggled during lockdowns, unsure of whether their business would survive. Some businesses had no choice but to close while others were able to operate takeaway and click & collect services. Supporting local businesses in 2021 is a great way to show them appreciation and ensure they can continue to trade this year and beyond. By popping into a local greengrocer for your fruit & vegetables, getting your bread from the local bakery or purchasing an outfit from your local clothing store you can help keep your local businesses running and improve your community.