As the saying goes “when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance”. Having worked with small businesses for over 30 years, we at SWIG Finance have seen this with our own eyes.

With Small- to Medium-sized businesses making up 99% of the UK business population, choosing to buy and trade locally brings an abundance of social, economic and environmental benefits to small business owners and the communities they serve.

Research conducted by Visa and Cebr found that for every £10 spent with local independently owned businesses, £3.80 was retained in their local area.

But the true benefits of shopping local go even further.

Shopping Local and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have been a key contributor to boosting the sales of many local retailers and service providers, as many consumers have come to realise just how important local businesses are to their communities, and to the wider economy.

Albeit, for many small businesses, the pandemic caused widespread disruption and many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have been forced to pivot to an online business model, but even with online shopping, shoppers are consciously choosing to keep local.

When we spoke to Ann Vandermeulen, The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Development Manager for Cornwall, about shopping local she said “We all saw how so many small businesses went the extra mile for their customers during lockdown. 11 per cent of those that remained open introduced deliveries direct to people’s homes, and a further 15 per cent diversified to offer takeaways, new products and services. Without them, so many people within our communities would have struggled even more. This is just one example of how important local businesses are and that they are more about being human than the perhaps preconceived, faceless term of “business” that is used to describe them”.

The Future for Local Businesses

An encouraging poll from YouGov has revealed that 64% of consumers now want to support their local businesses by shopping locally.

With the Christmas season just around the corner, shopping locally is even more important – particularly when considering the current difficulties and delays with supply chains, and the lower carbon footprint of buying local.

But consumer shopping is only half of the “keeping it local” solution – what if businesses did more to shop locally, too?

How Can SMEs Support Each Other?

On this topic, Ann commented “Don’t forget that business are also customers of other local businesses. So the indirect benefit of spending with a local business is powerful and far reaching. Every penny you spend does all of that so we would encourage everyone to invest that penny (joined by as many others as you can afford) in the right hands to appreciate it’s full value.”

Research compiled by CitySprint shows that over the last 12 months, 64% of SMEs chose to source products more locally.

And 82% from the same survey believe that support from local businesses will benefit their business in the 12 months to come.

These statistics are promising, and they tell us that UK SMEs are working to support each other.

More Benefits than Purely Economic

We asked Ann how shopping local impacted the wider community, and she responded “Small businesses provide great (often personal) service, unique products, years of expertise and a sense of place. They provide local jobs, look after buildings, preserve our high streets, bring people together, look out for the more vulnerable and can be that vital lifeline that we saw so clearly at the height of the pandemic. On top of this they keep your money circulating in your local economy, which can grow like a snowball if allowed to roll around amongst local customers and businesses.”

With more benefits gained than purely economic, the same Cebr report cited earlier in this article shows that 39% of the people surveyed said that their local small businesses made their areas a nicer place to live.

Furthermore, the survey also discovered that 43% of those who shopped locally found that their happiness levels were boosted, and shop keepers agreed that local support has been important to them during this very difficult year.

So, from this research we have concluded that shopping local will not only benefit your local community, but it can also benefit your mental health too!

About SWIG Finance

SWIG Finance is the South West’s leading Community Development Financial Institution. We are passionate about bringing social and economic benefits to people and places in the South West.

We do this by providing support and finance to Start Ups and growing SMEs that can create and secure employment opportunities.

As the South West’s leading delivery partner for Start Up Loans UK, we can provide Start Up Loans from £500 – £25,000. For more information visit

We also have business loans from £25,001 to £250,000 available to South West SMEs who cannot access sufficient funding from their bank

If you would like to have an informal discussion about your funding requirements, get in touch with our friendly and professional team to find out how we can help: / 01872 227 930.