Helen Bach: Keep it simple, keep it local

We should all try to shop local this Christmas, says Helen
We should all try to shop local this Christmas, says Helen

This year, with regards to Christmas gifts, I made a big decision.

I pledged that I was not going to buy on-line, or from large shops, but from local companies where possible.

So, friends and family should perhaps stop reading now, as they’ll find out what they’re getting from me for Christmas.

For anyone still with me, this has involved buying hand-made Christmas cards from a charity Christmas fair, gift vouchers from a local hostelry, presents from the village shop and coffee shop, Avon items from the local representative, plus a trip to a nearby independent garden centre for locally produced jams and chutneys.

Unfortunately, there are some things which I can’t get other than at my closest larger store – wines and spirits – but with the majority of presents, I’ve tried my best to support local businesses.

Truthfully, this is partly down to the fact that I cannot even contemplate heading to London, Leicester, Nottingham or Milton Keynes (other large cities are also available) and battling with shoppers in a consumer melee.

The scenes of madness from so-called ‘Black Friday’ were truly shameful – people literally fighting over electronic gadgets, and ending up in hospital.

But the main reason is that I think we need to support local, independent businesses, and I was heartened to see that ‘Small Business Saturday’ popped up in various town centres on December 7 to encourage people to shop in this way.

It’s true that we’re slowly dragging ourselves out of recession, but a lot of smaller companies are still struggling and are finding it hard to compete with the behemoth on-line retailers and hyper-market-type warehouses in out-of-town locations with free parking which are destroying our old town centres.

My gesture may be small, but if everyone bought just some of their gifts closer to home, bought their refreshments in independent cafes, and ate meals at their local pub or restaurant, it might help to keep these independent businesses running, thus keeping more money in our local economies, and giving employment to local people.

‘Keep it simple, keep it local’ – sounds like a good slogan for a campaign to me!

Read more from Helen here.