Supporting Local Businesses During The Cost Of Living Crisis

With rising costs, higher inflation, stagnant pay-packets (+ less cash to go around), the cost of living crisis is forcing people to cut back on their spending.

Going out less, opting-in for a lower-priced skincare routine, AND altering your supermarket shopping basket – might sound familiar. However, rest assured, because this won’t last forever. Eventually, inflation will reduce, and interest rates will rise up – once again.

The saving grace though – will be the day that: 1. the UK minimum wage increases, and 2. pay-packets start to rise – creating a fair equilibrium between the cost of living, our earnings, and the nation’s spending power.

The key to survival? Ride the wave until the economy improves. And it will. But not yet.

Sadly, businesses aren’t exempt from these struggles. According to PayPal’s Business of Change: Wellness & Empowerment Report 2022, ‘78% of businesses mentioned that they were worried that the cost-of-living crisis would be their biggest threat.’ Therefore, supporting small (and local) businesses is more important now, than ever before.

And here are five ways you can help:

  1. Shop Locally

Instead of visiting your nearest ‘big brand’ supermarket, why not visit a local corner shop, instead? Also, it doesn’t really matter what product or service you require (i.e. fashion, food, beauty, and so on) – there’ll be a local business nearby – that provides that product or service. You’ll just have to find them. And on that note, Google is your friend!

2. Leave A Review

According to a 2021 report by PowerReviews, more than 99.9% of customers read reviews when they shop online. Furthermore, 96% of customers look for negative reviews, specifically. In other words, reviews are a fundamental part of the online shopping process. NOTE: If you’ve purchased from a small business recently, be sure to leave them a review.

3. Swap Out: Ditch The Big Brands, And Go Independent, Instead

In September 2020, I wrote and published an article on Medium, called ‘What Startup Retail And Consumer Brands Are Focusing On In 2020.’

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Here’s what I said:

  • People are looking to buy specialty products that better meet their needs, such as skincare products that work with their skin type, or food that doesn’t contain allergens,
  • Start-ups have begun to focus on sustainability, ‘giving back,’ being eco-friendly, veganism, and natural ingredients, which is starting to become ‘the norm,’
  • Questions about society, morality and the impact humans are having on the environment has been around for a long time. Now, people aren’t just acknowledging these problems. They are enacting positive change, through ethical and sustainable business practices, and:
  • With consumers now demanding better business practices, coupled with the outrage when large corporations act immorally, startups are beginning to use this to their advantage, and they’re winning in the marketplace against much bigger competitors, and the age-old titans.

So. If you’re still feeling a little bit hesitant about ‘ditching’ your favourite big brand – in exchange for an independent brand instead, hopefully the above points have inspired you to at least give it a go.

4. Tell Your Friends

If you’ve discovered a small business that you love, tell your friends! Word of mouth recommendation has always been, still is, and will always be the fastest, cheapest, most powerful way to help a small business grow – which is particularly important, considering that small businesses usually have a small (or a 0) marketing budget.

5. Shout About It On Social Media

And to elaborate on the above point even further, if you have discovered a small business you love, shout about it on social media – to spread awareness. And be sure to tag the brand in question – in the post. Market research and customer feedback is really important for small businesses, as is the shout-out. They’ll appreciate it.

To Conclude:

According to the FSB’s UK Small Business Statistics: Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions in 2021:

  • At the start of 2021, there were 5.5 million small businesses in the UK – with 0 to 49 employees),
  • In the UK, SMEs account for 99.9% of the business population (5.5 million businesses),
  • In the UK, SMEs account for three fifths of the employment,
  • At the start of 2021, total UK SME employment was 16.3 million, and turnover was estimated at £2.3 trillion, and:
  • Employment in small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees) was 12.9 million, with a turnover of £1.6 trillion (36%).

In other words, small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy, so supporting them in today’s difficult economic climate is crucial for economic recovery, economic growth and stimulation, and job creation.

And lastly, in this day and age, there are so many ways you can discover new businesses, whether it’s via a Google search, a browse on social media, OR a scan of the vast number of online marketplaces on offer.