The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed virtually every aspect of our lives. Businesses have suffered, particularly small local businesses that did not already have the infrastructure in place to offer online ordering or contactless delivery. The way we browse in shops has changed significantly—or nearly disappeared entirely—and during the upcoming holiday season, we will likely feel the impact of those changes most acutely. Holiday shopping will look very different this year, but that does not mean buying from local retailers is off the table. In this post, we explore how important it is to shop locally this season, and how the Illinois Buy Fresh Buy Local directory can help you find local retailers who carry products from your local farmers and food artisans.
Shopping Local Online
In recent years, online shopping has dominated the holiday season, and retailers are preparing for that trend to increase this year. Surveys estimate that nearly 75% of shoppers in the United states will use the internet more than in previous seasons, particularly when it comes to browsing for gift ideas. In 2020, browsing online has become more than just a convenience—for many it now represents a serious safety measure, in order to help minimize potential exposure to COVID-19.
Shopping local online might sound like an oxymoron, but there are more opportunities than you might think. If you are one of the shoppers planning to use the internet for safer browsing, that doesn’t mean you must rely on major online retailers like Amazon or Walmart. Local food retailers like Green Top Grocery in Bloomington, River Valley Farmer’s Table in Chicago, or Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks in Niles offer online ordering for pickup and/or delivery, as well as preorder opportunities for special items, to make sure you get a plump, juicy local turkey or ham for your holiday feast.
This is why in 2020 we should use our holiday shopping to support our local communities, now more than ever. Spending our holiday dollars at local food retailers for our holiday treats and feasts shows them we value their presence in the community. This support extends not just to the shops, but to our local farmers, ranchers, and food artisans as well. We can show our love and solidarity by helping support our local businesses (and eating very well in the process).
Why Shop Local?
Produce lovers already know the value of buying local when it comes to freshness and flavor. Cutting down on the time between harvest and your table means more nutrients, bolder flavors, and crisper or juicier texture. But shopping local benefits more than just your taste buds.
- First and foremost, when you shop local, more of your dollars stay in the local economy. A 2018 small business economic impact study by American Express found that approximately 67 cents of every dollar spent in small, local businesses stays in the local economy, compared to less than 15% of the money spent at chain stores. This means money going directly into the pockets of local employers and employees, our own neighbors, who in turn reinvest those wages and profits into other community enterprises, keeping the cycle going.
- Small businesses are also major job creators. We have seen large multinational corporations displace hundreds of thousands of retail jobs, leading to store closings around the country. By shopping small and local, we help keep jobs in our communities, and help our neighbors keep their dreams going.
- COVID has hit small businesses particularly hard. Restaurants, cafes, and bars have faced prolonged closures and slow business when open. Shops have seen decreased foot traffic, as consumers are reluctant to circulate more than necessary. The general uncertainty and anxiety over the impact of this pandemic has people cutting down on shopping and entertainment. Purchasing gift certificates is one way we can extend an informal loan to local businesses who are temporarily closed or struggling. The infusion of cash from a gift certificate purchase can help a business stay afloat during the most difficult times, and the gift may also introduce new long-term customers to them, expanding their base for the future.
Not all retailers offer the option to order online, but you can still browse their offerings and find important information on hours and specials through the Buy Fresh Buy Local guide to learn about shops like longstanding local food purveyors Humphrey’s Market in Springfield. You can learn about retailers who offer SNAP matching programs, like Neighborhood Co-op Grocery in Carbondale. Shoppers who use their Link card, will get the first $25 of their produce purchase doubled, helping struggling families stretch their benefits to afford even more local fruits and vegetables.
Buy Fresh Buy Local this Holiday Season
From stocking up for holiday meals and comfort foods to get you through these trying times…to purchasing locally made specialty foods as gifts for friends, neighbors, and loved ones…to purchasing gift certificates that give a local business a financial boost now to help them weather this storm…shopping local is an important way you can strengthen your community this year. Our directory is ready to help you find Illinois retailers near you. We’re all in this together this holiday season, let’s use our dollars to strengthen our communities and our state.