If you must shop large, shop local!

Shopping in Caernarfon - Prynu'n Lleol Gwynedd

Let’s face it – buying absolutely everything from small, independent, local businesses is a huge challenge. Especially at this time of year, when there’s a lot you need to buy and budgets may be stretched further than usual. In this article, we look at how you can enjoy the best of both worlds: shop large, but shop local!

It’s that time of year again… presents to buy, feasts to prepare, halls to deck and all the usual panic and mayhem that goes with celebrating Christmas.

Shopping plays a huge part in the Christmas rituals, whether we like it or not. No matter how much we try to de-commercialise Christmas, the fact remains that we can’t escape shopping completely.

If you’re trying to stick to a budget, buying absolutely everything from small, local, or independent businesses is going to be a challenge. It doesn’t matter how much we’d all prefer to support smaller businesses in theory; in reality it’s extremely difficult to avoid the bigger businesses and chain stores completely. So what’s the answer?

Our suggestion is to try to shop as locally as possible, even if that means giving your custom to large chain stores. Some of your money still stays somewhat local, benefiting the local economy, if you shop at Tesco Bangor or Asda Pwllheli, albeit to a lesser degree than if you’d shopped at a farm shop or local deli. That’s because it’s local people that staff these stores, and these employees will go on to spend their money in other local stores – which certainly isn’t going to be the case if you shop in Chester, Liverpool or the Trafford Centre!

It does soften the blow if you aim to buy a few items at smaller businesses and the rest at chain stores. And when you have businesses like Boots offering 3 for 2 deals on gifts, or Lidl offering cut-price groceries, it’s very difficult to say no!

But for those really special items – perhaps a luxury jar of cranberry sauce, or a handmade gift for a close relative who’d really appreciate it – there are some wonderful independent businesses in Gwynedd who’d really appreciate your custom, no matter how small your spend.

Craft fairs can also be a good source of bargains; in the final week before Christmas you may find makers dropping their prices to clear their old stock and make way for their new makes, so it’s really worth doing the rounds of all the Christmas events if you have a few last-minute purchases to make.

And don’t forget that many local business owners are actually franchisees for huge brands; Spar in Pwllheli is one such business, and they’re famous for the amazing range of locally-produced foods they sell, which supports local farmers among others.

The Body Shop at Home is a franchise too – in North Wales it’s managed by Sioned Richards, who arranges their attendance at fairs as well as organising ‘Body Shop parties’ at customers’ homes. Big brand, small business – and plenty of bargains to be had too, if you join Sioned’s Facebook group!

So let’s not beat ourselves up this Christmas if smaller pay packets and rising prices mean we can’t buy absolutely everything from small shops or direct from the makers. Even if 99% of what we buy this Christmas comes from big businesses, as long as we stick to our local high streets instead of crossing over the border, we’re doing our bit.

After all, as a certain retail giant likes to keep reminding us: “every little helps”!

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