AT this time of year, people are exhorted to shop locally in the run-up to Christmas, and rightly so, because it keeps the local economy going and helps to preserve jobs. For most small traders, the Christmas season generates a large percentage of their annual turnover and helps to see them through the quieter times.
This weekend, the shopping flurry gets going in earnest with many of the big retailers, in their stores and online, aping the United States’ big Black Friday shopping day after Thanksgiving and carrying on the cut-price offers over the weekend. This has changed shopping trends here in recent years and is certainly not helping retailers in smaller towns and villages.
Online shopping is another factor eating away at the business of shop owners, again taking money out of local economies. To add insult to injury, some people go into shops to try on garments for size and then go off and buy them online; such cynical behaviour is bound to have a negative effect on local jobs.
As the economy is improving, shopping trips abroad are coming back into vogue for those who can afford them. With the weakness of sterling in particular against the euro, there is a lot of value to be had in Northern Ireland and on the UK mainland.
Retailers in towns and villages are not naïve enough to think that everybody will buy all their Christmas presents and supplies locally – after all, nobody owes anybody a living. Family shopping outings to cities are part and parcel of the Christmas experience, but there are plenty of things that can also be bought in their own locality.
According to the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association every €10 spent locally on Irish products can generate up to €24 benefit in the local economy. Buying goods that are produced, manufactured and sold locally is an easy and a good way to support jobs in your locality.
Jobs keep people in an area and help stave off emigration. Employees’ pay packets are the lifeblood of a local economy, so being conscious of supporting local businesses wherever you can is hugely important.
In West Cork coastal towns especially, much of their business comes from tourism during the summer. Things are much quieter at other times of the year, so any boost they can get at Christmastime is both welcome and necessary.
The economic recovery has been slow to reach many rural areas and small and medium-sized businesses still need all the help and support they can get, especially with the threat of Brexit looming large as it has the potential to affect rural Ireland’s agri-food industry in particular very badly.
Starting this week, The Southern Star is publishing a series of free magazines, showcasing the great value to be had locally in the various towns and villages across West Cork. We ask you to support our advertisers in whatever way you can to help maintain jobs in the locality.