Local businesses are the heart of our community and this holiday season they need our help more than ever.
The full effects of COVID-19 on local businesses are still not known. However, it is clear that the pandemic has been detrimental to small businesses that rely on the local community to stay afloat. First, local businesses were affected by the lockdown in early spring and they continue to be affected by public health restrictions.
According to Statistics Canada, over 30 per cent of businesses with 100 to 500 employees experienced a revenue loss of at least 20 per cent in the first months of 2020, in comparison to quarter one 2019. There was an even higher revenue loss for 48 per cent of businesses with less than 100 employees. Worse hit were the smallest businesses, with an astounding 56 to 60 per cent of small businesses run by less than five people losing over 20 per cent of their revenue.
To make matters worse, small businesses will have to compete with giant corporations like Amazon this holiday season.
Deloitte’s 2020 Holiday Retail Outlook predicts that Canadians will be spending around 44 per cent of their holiday budget online compared to 36 per cent in 2019. Of those doing their shopping online, an overwhelming 66 per cent will be making their purchases on Amazon. Only 43 per cent of shoppers say that they will choose to shop in person, which is a 10 per cent decrease from 2019.
So why does shopping locally matter?
By supporting small and local businesses, more money will continue to circulate in the community and boost our local economies.
For example, local businesses are more likely to support community initiatives compared to large corporations. When was the last time Amazon helped sponsor a hockey tournament or donate to a local fundraiser? Not anytime recently, but local businesses do so all the time. They want to see their community do well, because when their community thrives, so do they.
Local businesses create jobs. They hire more regional employees than large corporations who often contract out positions to other communities or provinces. This directly benefits those living in and around the community, once again boosting our local economy and providing job security.
Local businesses create desirable communities. Those who are looking to move to a new place are more likely to choose one with a thriving business sector that features unique stores. In small towns, it is common for owners to be on a first-name basis with their customers because they value their business, which further encourages a sense of community.
As consumers, how can we support the small businesses that mean so much to our communities this holiday season?
The simplest answer is to grab your mask, get out there and support local businesses by purchasing your gifts from them. This is normally their busiest season of the year, and they rely on customers showing up to do their holiday shopping.
Are you unsure whether the person you are shopping for will like a certain product? Then you are in luck because most small businesses understand the predicaments gift shopping can cause and will offer customizable gift cards.
Don’t want to shop in person? Look for small businesses that will deliver right to your doorstep. If you are unsure about their delivery process, feel free to reach out. Due to their size, it will be easy to contact the store and receive help from someone who knows the ins and outs of the business. They will often go out of their way to make your experience with their business a pleasant one because that’s how small businesses work.
Local businesses need our support now more than ever before, and they deserve it. They stimulate the local economy and give endless support to our communities. Now it is our turn to support them before they disappear permanently.
Graphic: Anh Phan | Design Editor