Disclaimer: Articles on this website are written from the perspectives of various Localists, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Local Matters. Our contributors come from a wide array of varying political backgrounds, and we believe that cooperation across the political spectrum is essential.
On the evening of December 30th, 2019, a Chinese doctor in the city of Wuhan called a virus to the attention of his colleagues. As of the 31st of March 2020, there have been 784,440 confirmed cases of this virus globally, which includes 37,781 deaths worldwide. This has highlighted the fragility of our globalised world and aggravated the cracks in today’s systems.
China exports more than 80 percent of what it manufactures, including industrial and consumer goods, and is one of several countries which the UK relies on for its imported stock. With international restrictions now in place, hundreds of products are not arriving on the shelves, leading to panic-purchasing on a mass scale, particularly of toilet roll, hand sanitizer, over-the-counter painkillers, rice, flour, and canned food. Although this situation may be a prepper’s dream, most people now find themselves lacking the safety net once provided to them by the state. With food and medicine unable to meet the demands of its consumers, it is now more clear than ever, that we should all buy as much as we can, from as close as we can.
While small businesses struggle to stand on their own two feet, products from expansive corporations are dominating our cupboards. There are 5.6 million small businesses in the UK, employing over 16.3 million people, making their success crucial to our economy. However, research by Funding Options in 2019 revealed that 51% of UK small and medium business owners need more help to take control of their finances – equating to 2.86 million small businesses who are struggling alone. Therefore, you may be surprised to learn that a 2015 study by YouGov showed that 79% of UK Adults think it’s important that Brits buy local produce, but only 30% had actually bought any in the last week. Why do these numbers differ so widely? Primarily, because buying things from a supermarket is simply easier. The company with the strongest brand awareness, largest marketing budget, and cheapest products, will often come out on top – this is always, of course, the vast conglomerates.
While the government must put policies in place for these small companies, every one of us can also do our part to help – buy local, and prompt others to do the same. Making small changes to our usual shopping lists means that the people who grow, work, produce and sell within your area will benefit greatly. When we go to spend our money, let’s put it into the pockets of those around us, rather than of an international syndicate who pay pennies to their workers in India or China. Not only will this bring healthier food to our tables, and strengthen the economy of our home, supporting your local businesses, and prompting others to do so, will help to improve the livelihoods of our neighbours, thus, advancing our communities overall.