Community Reinvented – The Importance of Shopping Local

Community Reinvented – The Importance of Shopping Local

The pandemic reshaped how we view the world around us. Parallel to us spending more time than ever in solitude, there seemed to be a grassroots redefinition of what ‘community’ means to us. From local fundraising, food parcel drops and the Thursday 8pm clap for the NHS, our worlds may had become smaller but our sense of responsibility to those around us seemed stronger than ever before. This was reflected in research conducted in 2020 by Mastercard, which showed that 74% of shoppers in Europe felt they would be more likely to shop in their local communities than the previous year. It seems that having our geographical reach suddenly stunted helped us to realise the importance of local businesses and the role we play in keeping them afloat.


However, a lot has changed since 2020 and now there are other factors at play. The cost-of-living crisis has meant that people from across a wide economic spectrum are bracing themselves for a major increase in energy bills, food prices and other day-to-day items. This will leave a lot of the British public with significantly less disposable income than in 2020. So, when it comes down to it, will shopping local still be a priority, or will the cheap and easy Amazon option take priority?


It is more than likely that the rise in cost of living will have a direct influence on customer spending. When it comes to necessities such as groceries, we will probably see households tightening the purse strings. But at the same time, our reliance on our local high street comes from more than simply needing it to accommodate transactions. According to research by the Institute of Economic Development (IED), when it comes to successful town centres, the three priorities for consumers are a strong independent retail offer, a year-round programme of cultural events, and family-friendly activities.


After losing access to human interaction and community events during lockdown, there’s a good chance that people won’t want to give it up again. It could be that the emotional and social pay off that comes with frequenting our local highstreets will be seen as more valuable than the faceless, cheap and cheerful experience of shopping from companies like Amazon. Or more likely, both will continue to co-exist, mutually fulfilling different purposes for our complex consumer market.


Either way, there is no denying that the high street is about more than just convenience. For those of us that have lived in the same geographical area for long periods, they provide us with a sense of nostalgia. For anyone that works in their local town centres, they provide us with our income and livelihood. For parents and guardians, they offer a break from the four walls of our homes and the opportunity of creating new memories for the next generation. Whatever way you look at it, the high street will always provide value unmatched by the online experience.

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