When you need to make a purchase, do you immediately log onto Amazon? Or do you venture into your community to check out your local grocery, shoe, or furniture store?
Where you spend your money matters. When you choose to support local businesses, this helps to ensure your money stays in your community. Today, local businesses in Manitoba and across Canada are under extreme pressure to try and match the prices of online stores. They are doing this while trying to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, and also dealing with the effects of high inflation.
Local business owners need community support to keep going. Ultimately, it’s up to individual customers to decide how and where they want to spend their money.
Why You Should Support Local Businesses
When you support your local economy, the impact of your support can be far-reaching. If every dollar spent locally gets circulated three or four more times before it leaves the local economy, this can help to ensure the financial health of your community. Economists often refer to this as the Multiplier Effect.
The Multiplier Effect explains how a dollar spent locally impacts the local economy. If you spend a dollar at the grocery store and then the grocer uses it to pay the distributor, who pays the farmer, who pays the farm staff, who then uses the money to go out for dinner, you can see how the money stays in the community. On the other hand, if you buy a product from a big box store like Walmart or Amazon, your dollar doesn’t have the same opportunity to stay local.
Recognizing that it’s not always possible to buy everything you need locally, Bruce Duggan, Associated Professor of Management at Providence School of Business, recommends trying to find a balance and a mixture between buying locally and from e-commerce sites like Amazon. He says, “if you only ever buy from Amazon or from an international company, then you’re going to starve your home community.” He asks people to imagine what towns would look like if “there were no stores in it at all and no businesses at all. It would be a kind of lonely, empty place.”
Many Small Businesses Are Struggling
Small business owners have endured a lot over the past few years. Being stuck inside during the global pandemic shifted the way people were able to purchase goods. While online shopping was already popular, the pandemic accelerated online demand. Between February 2020 to July 2022, online shopping sales increased by 67.9%. Retail e-commerce continued above pre-pandemic levels even after the Canadian economy reopened.
According to Statistics Canada, roughly 100,000 businesses that were operating in February 2020 were closed by September. Recent statistics from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), state that over half (57%) of small businesses still haven’t repaid their pandemic-related debt, which averages $105,000. In addition, only 48% of small businesses have seen their sales return to pre-pandemic levels. Now, Canadian small businesses that managed to survive the pandemic are trying to stay operational in the face of high inflation.
“I think with the tough economic times that we’re facing now, small business owners are having to work a lot harder simply because they can’t afford the employees,” says Leigh Taylor, owner of LCTaylor Licensed Insolvency Trustee in Manitoba.
Taylor continues. “Small businesses are trying to stay open longer hours because they want to catch every customer they have. They stay up at night trying to get the paperwork done and tax returns and everything, so there are fewer people to spread it out with, as opposed to a large international firm that may operate a store.” Taylor believes that once things from the pandemic really start to settle, there are going to be more small businesses that don’t make it.
How to Support Local Businesses in Manitoba?
If you want to do more to support local businesses, there are simple steps you can take. You don’t have to completely give up the convenience of Amazon, but you can find a balance by making certain purchases within your community.
For instance, shopping at your local grocery store allows you to support a local farmer and grocer. When you want to go out for dinner, consider visiting a local diner or restaurant instead of going to one of the larger chains.
The same goes for services. If you need to get your car fixed or a haircut, check out the local providers before heading to a franchise. Not only does this allow you to support your local economy, but it also helps to build relationships and trust with the people in your community. Taylor believes the ability to build relationships is the best part of shopping locally. “You’re dealing with local people,” Taylor adds. “You know a lot of them- they’re your neighbors.”
Pros and Cons of Shopping at a Local Small Business
When trying to find a balance between supporting local small businesses and shopping online, consider the following pros and cons.
- Stimulate local growth. When you shop locally, you cycle dollars back into your community. The taxes made from the local sale can go to your local government, and are reinvested into the community.
- Local job creation. 98% of all employers in Canada are small businesses. When you support local businesses, this helps to create more local job opportunities.
- Face-to-face service. During COVID, everything went online. Now there is an opportunity to get back into stores and buy from real humans. While this isn’t always the most convenient option, there is something to be said about in-person contact and connection. If you have a question about a product or you need to make a return, it can be easier to do this in a physical store versus online.
- Limited variety. It’s not always possible to find everything you need within your community. Larger retailers have access to a larger range of products.
- Convenience. There is no denying the convenience of ordering online and having the product delivered directly to your doorstep.
- Pricing. Large stores can often provide products at a cheaper price because they can purchase in such large quantities. Local businesses are aware of this and try to price their products competitively.
Find Local Debt Help
During the pandemic, many Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) started doing business over Zoom to meet COVID restrictions. Like many other local business owners in Manitoba, Taylor saw this as a challenge.
“There’s a real difference when you’re talking about something as personal as solving your financial problems,” says Taylor. “Whether it’s a bankruptcy, or a consumer proposal, or some sort of budgeting process that you’re trying to get through, it’s so much more effective if you do it in person.”
When you’re seeking help from a trustee, you’re probably already in a state of stress. This is a time when human connection is important.
If you own local businesses in Steinbach, Winnipeg, or anywhere in between, and you need help with your debt, LCTaylor is here to serve you. Call 204-925-6400, visit www.LCTaylor.com, or stop by their Winnipeg office at 386 Broadway to schedule a confidential and free initial consultation. We look forward to meeting you.
Bruce Duggan is the Associate Professor of Management at Providence Buller School of Business. Providence is a Christian university college and seminary located in Otterburne, Manitoba. He has been a professor there for 20 years, teaching Corporate Finance, Business Ethics, and the relationships between businesses and First Nations. Bruce also runs Boke Consulting, which provides support to remote First Nations communities in Manitoba working to switch from fossil fuels to renewables, improve their waste management and recycling programs, and grow local, sustainable food.
Leigh C. Taylor, B.A., CPA, C.I.R.P.
Leigh has been working in the insolvency field since 1975. He is a graduate of the University of Manitoba. Leigh began his career as an Official Receiver with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. He is a Certified Professional Accountant, and attained his license as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee in 1980.
Leigh has been a member of the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) since its inception. He is a Past President of several organizations including the Manitoba Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (MAIRP), the Armstrong Point’s Association, and the Manitoba Opera. In addition, he has served for numerous years in leadership roles in Winnipeg churches. He is currently serving on the William Stephenson Scholarship Trust.