So apparently today is Cyber Monday – the day when we’re all going to be very enthusiastically shopping online.
According to the BBC website, we’ll be spending cash at a rate of £450,000 a minute today – 26% more than last year.
For me, though, I’ll be taking a slightly different tack to my shopping this Christmas. I wrote earlier this year about how I was weaning myself off Amazon – and to an extent, I have.
During 2013, I spent £3,410 on the Amazon website. This year, it’s been just over £120.
So what’s changed?
This year, I’ve made the effort to shop in the real world, and where possible to shop local.
My Amazon purchases were restricted to some photography lights that weren’t in stock in any of our local towns, an album I couldn’t find anywhere else, and some printer ink that I needed overnight and couldn’t leave the house to buy. So I’m not boycotting the site entirely – just restricting my use to where there isn’t a local alternative.
I’m lucky to live in a small town where there are plenty of independent shops. In Lytham, we’ve got a choice of shoe shops, a bookshop that sells toys and stationery, some amazing gift and interiors stores, quirky gift shops, and restaurants. We’ve even got our own local coffee company. There are two greengrocers, a butchers, and a cheese shop, all independently owned. We have our own, locally owned department store. There are a ridiculous number of restaurants and cafes, and you can even book into the local antique furniture store for workshops on painting furniture and other creative pastimes.
I know it isn’t as easy for everyone to have this sort of choice. Maybe you live miles from the nearest shops – not a five minute walk like us. And I’ll admit, buying locally isn’t always the absolute cheapest option.
But I like the fact that when I buy Flea’s books from the local book shop, the guy who owns the store is the same guy I used to see every week at the local mother and baby group. I used to take Flea to a weekly music class for toddlers with the daughter of the family that owns the greengrocers. We’re going to be renting an office next year – and the guy who designed and built the building is the Dad of Flea’s best friend from school.
Isn’t that what it’s all about? Being part of the community you live in, and helping it to thrive? When we go into the local shoe shop, the owner knows Flea by name – and knows to only bring out boys’ shoes to choose from. She’ll often offer us a discount, or she’ll drop in some shoe labels or accessories for free. Sure, I probably could have bought those Converse boots online a little cheaper than I got them in Stampede, but would Flea have got to say hello to Blue, the owner’s dog, if we did that?
For me, it’s worth a couple of extra pounds here or there to know that the money I spend is going in the pockets of people who live and work in my community. They’re the parents of Flea’s friends at school. They’re the Mums and Dads I see every week at Cubs and Beaver scouts.
And the evidence suggests that money spent in the local community stays in the community – figures show that for every £1 spent locally in an independently owned business, 63p remained local, compared to 40p for a larger business (or zero for an online business based in a warehouse who knows where).
What do you reckon – will you be shopping locally this Christmas?