People across Leeds are being urged to help save the local economy by a new citizen-led campaign called #BuyLeeds – encouraging us all to do our Christmas shopping with locally-owned shops, businesses, creators, and producers.
Whilst big business and chain stores dominate the headlines, it is local independent businesses who are more vulnerable in the face of economic downturns. The high street is struggling, but independent stores even more so, who (even at the best of times) make up an estimated 90% of total shop closures nationally.
The hospitality industry has been hit even harder by Covid-19, with scores of local cafes, pubs and restaurants fearing for their futures. And the overall economic climate – in which many people are ‘tightening their belts’ – seems to be negatively impacting a broader swathe of small businesses (such as individual makers and creators, often working from home) and community organisations.
Meanwhile, according to research bodies like the New Economics Foundation, locally-owned businesses play a disproportionately positive role in their communities – which the big chains can’t match. Typically, they invest far more locally – employing local people, buying from local and not paying profit to distant shareholders.
They also generate more and better-quality jobs (whereas every supermarket on average causes 270+ job losses); they pay more tax; they generally have a smaller environmental impact; and they contribute to a vibrant and more democratic community (instead of having too much power held by a small number of organisations).
The #BuyLeeds website supportyourlocalindie.co.uk features scores of locally-owned businesses, including: cafes and restaurants; activity and leisure providers; pubs and brewers; bakers, butchers, and caterers; record stores, artists and craftspeople, bookshops, and many more.
The campaign is especially focused on businesses providing Christmas fare, such as gifts and vouchers, food and drink, and other seasonal items.
But they recognise the importance of the wider range of local retailers, such as neighbourhood convenience stores, and plan to sustain the campaign year-round.
Jack Simpson runs Eiger Studios near Hunslet Moor, and is one of the campaign coordinators. He commented:
“It’s obviously been a very difficult year for many. But the way we all spend our money can make such a difference to local businesses, and to our communities and city – please #BuyLeeds this Christmas, and beyond.
“This is a moment for the city to unite, to support its own. All Leeds, Aren’t We?’
Zoe lives in Beeston, and runs her own jewellery business Urban Magpie as a second income. She told us:
“I’m fortunate I don’t rely on this for a living – because for so many local creatives and indie retailers, 2020 has been incredibly tough. I’ve been working with city-centre retailer Our Handmade Collective to launch a fantastic new online shop, but am really keen to support other south Leeds makers, and shops and venues.
“I really hope everyone gets behind the #BuyLeeds campaign!”
For full #BuyLeeds information and news, visit supportyourlocalindie.co.uk, or find them on social media; businesses are welcome to sign up anytime. To buy the wares of local craftspeople, check out: ourhandmadecollective.co.uk, shop.fabric-ation.co.uk, or www.etsy.com/uk/shop/greatyorkshireshop.
Or just drop into your local independent shops, leisure or hospitality venues, and see what they have.
Many are offering gift vouchers – or just make your own IOU for loved ones this Christmas, for a trip out to a local venue in the New Year.
And could we all buy our Christmas roasts from a local butcher this year?
Buy advance tickets for courses or sessions at local leisure and activity venues, in rock climbing, biking, and more?
Make purchases from local charities or groups selling crafts, gifts, calendars, and other items?
Let’s really make Christmas count this year. Let’s put our money where our mouth is, spread the word, and see how local independent shopping – now, or at any time – will reap a harvest in our city and communities. It’s up to us.