From The Chair: Remember to ‘shop local’ this season

Keep money in the community

Andrew Gower

Special to The Record

The holiday season is upon us, and for many people this includes the tradition of gift giving. The options of where to procure gifts are many and a myriad in this day and age of internet shopping, big box stores, along with easy and accessible travel to major centres.  Local shopping is the best option, consider it as  giving two gifts – the one you buy to give to a loved one, and the benefit you create by keeping money in our local economy.

Here are some facts about current trends in shopping that are important to consider (from the locobc.com website):

• Online shopping is a growing trend in Canada. Sales are expected to double in the next four years, from $22 billion in 2014 to $40 billion by 2019.

• B.C. retailers cite “competition from internet retailers” as one of two top challenges they face (tied for top issue at 64 per cent along with “big competitors receive better pricing and terms”).

• Two out of every three dollars spent online by Canadians goes to a U.S. retail website.

• Cross border online shopping reduces the amount of money circulating in the local economy by up to 32 per cent.

These trends do two things: they take wealth from our communities and send it to outside companies whose shareholders have no vested interest in where we live. Thus, in the case of internet shopping, the entire economic impact of your shopping decision is removed from our local economy. In the case of chain stores, only the profit from your shopping is removed from our local economy. A local advantage a chain store has over internet shopping is that much of the revenue from that business does stay in our local economy in the form of payroll, taxes, and sponsorship of events and causes. It is important to consider that many chain stores are some of our best corporate citizens, and despite the shareholders of those businesses not being from our community, they do spend a considerable amount of extra money supporting local events and causes.

Shopping at local businesses with local ownership keeps considerably more of our wealth in our local economy. While some wealth has to leave the community to pay for outside suppliers, the rest stays. The profits stay and are generally re-invested by business owners. Local business employees and owners shop in local stores also, further magnifying the wealth. Local businesses contribute directly to the health, diversity, resilience and strength of our communities. The Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association, the Comox Business Improvement Association and downtown Cumberland business owners spend considerable time, energy and money to make downtown shopping a vibrant place to be.

This holiday season, give two gifts – one to a loved one, and the other to our community.

Choosing to shop local builds and grows our wealth as a community.

 

 

Andrew Gower is the chair of  the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce

 

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