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How shopping small does so much more than produce a 'happy dance'.

You've likely seen the memes and Insta posts about how shopping small means somebody does a happy dance. It's cute and a bit fun right?

However, there is a serious danger in the narrative that this kind of content can develop.

Firstly, the assumption can easily be made that shopping small is just that - something cute or fun. Worse still, it divorces the activity of shopping small from the very real financial benefits to individuals, communities and indeed, our national GDP.

There is no doubt that Winter/Spring, 23/24 has produced some of the most difficult trading conditions of recent years apart from lockdowns. Small business owners are reporting low footfalls, low spend and cautious behaviours.

Shopping small, unfortunately, is often seen as a luxury activity or something of a treat. It's often framed that shopping small is part of a leisure experience (lovely as that is by the way!) and separate from our every day shopping. We 'shop small' when we need a gift or it's Christmas. We shop small when we're mooching around independent shops while on holiday. We're not using the notion of shopping small to evolve our general shopping habits from 'buy cheap and buy lots' to 'buy mindfully & buy well'.

What we do know is that small business puts food on tables and pays tax to our economy. We know that small business often means better quality, reduced mass production & more transparent supply chains. Small business often means less packaging and definitely delivers better service. Shopping small has some serious impacts for the good.

So what more do we need to understand and what actions can we start to take to elevate our cute 'shop small' habit to something that is part of our every day to grow impact, energise communities & support families more consistently.

  1. Small is a confusing term. In the UK a small business is actually defined as one with 10-49 employees. What most of us think of as small is, in fact, defined as micro. That is a business that has 0-9 employees, including the self empoyed or sole trader type businesses. If we really want to spend our money and understand our business landscape, then we should start by calling our much loved 'little' business sector by their full name - micro businesses.

  2. Micro businesses provide a whopping 20% of all employment in Britain, a not insignificant number. Given the tricky trading conditions for many, it's worth understanding what impact our spending choices can have on so many.

  3. Micro business numbers are around 2.5 million in the UK too. Often online and often in our high streets, imagine a Britain without them. From plumbers to gift shops, from accountants to graphic designers, it's easy to comprehend the impact they have for all of us.

  4. In a world where huge businesses are encouraging us to buy cheap and buy often, our tight budgets can feel stretched and bullied. We can take some power back by spending better in all parts of our lives. This might mean shopping less for some but should definitely include choosing best quality and seeking out small, independent traders if supporting our communities, economy and our planet matters to you.

  5. We can all take the 'shop small' slogans much more seriously by assessing what our local life would feel like if some of those we love didn't make it in the current financial climate. Take a scan of your local high street & imagine the impact of any business losses.

  6. Where budgets are too tight, education & engagement is free. Offering support in the form of reviews, recommendations & social media exposure all has significant impacts on micro enterprises. Without hefty marketing budgets, it's within our power to reduce the shortfall.

  7. Finally, and unsurprisingly, we'd love you start your learningjourney about micro business Britain by checking out our Simply Directory, packed full of outstanding micro business from holidays to web designers.


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