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Our survival depends on people choosing local, Scots businesses say

Three-quarters of Scottish businesses say the support of local people is critical to their survival as they battle continued unprecedented challenges.

The statistic has been revealed by the Scotland Loves Local campaign as it issues a rallying cry for people to choose local this summer and support enterprises – and protect jobs – in their community, unlocking millions of pounds worth of spending.

Its call to action is supported by the Scottish Government, with the findings reinforcing the importance of grassroots action in fuelling a fairer, stronger, more sustainable national economy.

Research was carried out by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), the organisation which spearheads Scotland Loves Local, among its members and stakeholders, which include the country’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).

It found: 

  • 73% of businesses who responded to questions said custom from residents in their local community as “extremely important”, with 13% describing it as “very important”.
  • Nine-in-10 (90%) said it was important that people “love local” and get behind businesses in their community this summer.
  • And the circular impact of businesses boosting their local economy was reinforced by the survey responses, with three-quarters (75%) of those who took part saying they buy from and sell to other local enterprises.

Scotland’s Planning Minister, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, said: “We know town centres make a huge contribution to the economic and social success of our local communities. That’s why the Scottish Government has taken significant steps to help our towns, by supporting Scotland’s Towns Partnership to lead work on local strategies.  

“I’m delighted the Scottish Government was able to provide an additional £250,000 for the development of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card. This will make it easier for people to shop locally and support businesses in their towns and communities.”

Born as the nation emerged from the first Covid-19 lockdown in summer 2020, Scotland Loves Local has evolved into a campaign for longer-term good – encouraging people to make the places they live better by supporting the people and businesses around them.

STP Chair Professor Leigh Sparks, the leading retail academic who’s also the University of Stirling’s deputy principal, said: “Towns, villages and local places across Scotland – and the businesses that operate at their heart – are the economic and social glue of the country and our communities.

“The cost of living and the cost of doing business, though, continue to challenge both consumers and businesses.

“Local support is the common thread that helps everyone weather this and build sustainable places and communities. By choosing local – and getting behind the businesses in our communities – we will ensure the survival of shops and services. Local consumer spending generates local business spending and protects the jobs of family, friends and neighbours.

“By loving local, we will also ensure that our high streets and town centres build a fairer, more sustainable Scotland – creating even better places to live, work and visit.”

Businesswoman Doris Lenaghen owns eye-catching gift shop Whimsic Alley – and its wizardry-inspired sister store the Lonely Broomstick – on Falkirk High Street with her son, Leslie. Theirs is among the businesses supporting and promoting the call for people to choose local.

She said: “The support of local people is important. Without it, the High Street would be dead. We need people to support businesses more – and come back time and again.

“It’s not just about shopping. It’s about people coming into the town centre to socialise too, supporting all sorts of businesses. If everyone spent just £5 more with local businesses every week it would make a huge difference.”

Kimberley Guthrie, STP’s Interim Chief Officer, added: “We need to begin a permanent behaviour change in thinking local first this summer, whether for shopping, days out or simply local businesses trading with each other. Choosing local is not only good for our economy, it’s good for the environment.”

People across the country are also being urged to spend using the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card, ensuring the money they spend stays local for longer by directly supporting shops, attractions and jobs in the area. Businesses and charities are also being encouraged to use them as rewards.

You can find out more about the gift card here.