Lockdown gave the “buy local” movement in Morzine, Les Gets and the vallee d’Aulps a big boost, as opportunities for buying products directly from the producers helped meet the needs of local residents at a time when access to supermarkets and other shops was limited. Unfortunately, now that the area has emerged from these restrictions, many shoppers have reverted to previous habits leaving local suppliers with a disappointing downturn in their sales.
But why does this matter? Can’t we all just embrace the good old days of shopping for convenience, in big shops with long opening hours and online where everything is available at the click of a button?
It matters a lot actually.
The recent study carried out by the CCHC to assess the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on business activity found that only about 20% of businesses expected to return to business as usual this summer and as many as 1 in 3 business leaders do not have any clear view as to when they might fully recover. The sectors most affected are tourism, in particular accommodation and catering as well as personal services such as leisure, education, beauty and well being.
You can read the full report here: https://www.agenceecochablais.com/2014-04-16-06-30-16/l- observatoire-economique/11-s-informer-sur-l-economie/291-covid-19-synthese.html
The future of small businesses and community vitality has never been more under threat than at this moment and it has never been more important to do everything possible to support and energize the local economy.
The CCHC has recently launched a campaign encouraging the continued purchase of local products and services direct from suppliers. But buying local is not just important for the suppliers who have seen a reduction in their income – it has a knock on effect for each and every person living in the local area. It is crucial to understand just how fundamental this is to rebuilding the fortunes of the local economy.
The local multiplier effect can have a big part to play in the rebuilding of these fortunes – it is the amount of local economic activity that is triggered by the purchase of any one item. Community economics states that the more a euro circulates in a defined region, and the faster it circulates, the more income, wealth and jobs it creates.
So even though a product from a local source maybe slightly more expensive because it is not mass produced, stretching to spend a little more money is an investment in helping the community to thrive.
THE TALE OF TWO CHEESES…
There once were two pieces of cheese, one made in Morzine and one made in Holland; both pieces of cheese were delivered to a Morzine food shop and purchased by customers for 5 euros each. The euros from the Morzine cheese were used by the shop to the pay the Morzine farmer, who paid his farm staff, who then bought a pint of locally brewed beer in a Morzine bar, and the bar paid the brewery who then employed a local builder to expand their premises as business was booming. The builder loved cheese, especially local cheese, and he went back into the same food shop and bought some Morzine cheese. The cycle repeats and then creates a ripple throughout the local economy.
The euros from the Dutch cheese were used by the shop to pay the distributor, who paid the importer, who paid the wholesaler who paid the farmer. Along the first supply chain, the cheese euros from the locally owned Morzine farm recirculates and exponentially multiplies throughout the local economy. Conversely, part of the cheese euros from the Dutch farm leaves Morzine when the distributor involved in bringing the cheese from Holland is paid. That distributor’s business may be owned by shareholders around the globe, and that portion of the cheese euros goes into global financial markets. At the same time, Morzine loses out on all of the ways that the cheese money could have created growth locally.
In addition to choosing local products, it is also just as important to choose where you buy them from.
For example when a product is purchased in a locally owned and run shop, a higher proportion of the spend goes directly into the pocket of someone who lives in the community and this then enables them to have more money to spend on other local goods and services.
If a product is bought in a local shop that is part of an international chain then that expenditure still supports a business which employs local people and therefore contributes to the local economy but to a slightly lesser extent as part of the profits leave the region.
When a product that could be bought locally (perhaps even second hand) is bought from an online retailer instead, then that is a missed opportunity to invest and support the local community.
Online shopping is such an easy habit to fall into as it is often cheaper and more convenient to just click a button and make an online purchase but this behaviour is damaging to local businesses and limits the employment opportunities they provide. Successful and prosperous communities tend to be those with the highest percentage of jobs in businesses that are locally owned because this maximises the regions’ self- reliance.
By supporting locally-owned businesses, the same money will be spent again – and possibly even again. Each time, it benefits somebody local, supporting a business or a job. This is the local multiplier effect and it has been given a value, which varies according to the location, but typically it’s between 1.4 and 2 times the value of the amount spent.
Michael Schuman, a leading visionary on community economics conducted a study which showed that if the city of Detroit were to shift 20% of its food spending to local sources, 4,700 jobs would be created and the city would receive nearly $20 million more in business taxes per year. This is just one example of how small changes to consumer buying habits can have a huge impact on local wealth.
To put it in local terms, if each local resident in Morzine, Les Gets & the valley d’Aulps redirected 10 euros of their weekly spend to local business, instead of spending it online or outside the region, even with a conservative estimate, it would generate 3.65 million euros of entirely new revenue into the local economy in just 1 year. *
It is also important to keep euros circulating within the local economy for environmental reasons. Modern society is heavily dependent on fossil fuels to both produce and transport food, especially when consumers are accustomed to having out of season foods year round. When buying local and in-season foods, fewer resources are used in their production, storage and transportation and the food is fresher when it reaches the plate – so ultimately it tastes better too! The same is true of buying local non-food products and services, the supply chain is shortened thus reducing the carbon footprint of the associated transport requirements.
It is easy to feel powerless when dealing with the fall out of a global pandemic, however the small choices made by individuals on a daily basis can have a huge cumulative impact on the growth of the local economy. Choosing to invest in the wonderful array of goods and services available locally will give the best chance to re- build what has been lost and work towards a greener and more prosperous future.
Take action, buy local.
*Our calculation for this number is as follows. c. 5000 residents in Morzine, Avoriaz, Les Gets, Essert Romand, Cote d’Arbroz, St Jean d’Aulps, Le Biot, Seytroux & La Baume. 5000 residents spending 10 Euros/week = 50,000 Euros per week 50,000 Euros multiplied by 1.4 (conservative end of the local multiplier effect value) multiplied by 52 weeks to get an annual value of 3,650,000 Euros. If the higher end of the local multiplier effect value of 2 was used, the annual value would be 5,200,000 Euros!
Words: Kathryn Judge
Graphics: Tasha Romano