Friday, 4 October 2013

How You Can Reap the Rewards of Local Shopping

Over the last decade the trend for out of town shopping has been clear. A lack of time and the promise of lower prices has meant that many families have done the majority of their shopping at large supermarkets, but now the tide does gradually seem to be turning.. and West Malling is a great example of where the High Street and Local Shops are supported and enjoyed by the people who live here and others who come to visit.

The popularity of shopping locally has been growing, and this is illustrated in the campaign that TSB bank used to re-launch last month. Using the strapline ‘welcome back to local banking’ TSB are marketing themselves as a local bank that serves the community, appealing to a growing feeling that people want to support local businesses. Figures released by the British Retail Consortium in April showed that the footfall in the High Street had increased 3.4% from the previous month, which seems to bear out the idea that people are enjoying the benefits of shopping locally. 

So what exactly are those benefits? Here are just a few of the advantages to shopping in your local town or village.

Become more connected with your local community. Commuting to work and popping into the supermarket on your way home can make you feel alienated from the community you live in, while visiting your local High Street can make you feel more involved. Combine shopping with a haircut, a coffee with a friend, or a visit to the local library, and pick up local news and developments as you go
Abbey Arcade - West Malling High Street
Receive a more personal service. Smaller local shops may not be able to compete on price but they can offer a higher level of service with more personal interaction. Get to know your shopkeeper, ask for advice, or see if they can order particular products that you like. A trip to the supermarket often involves no human interaction at all with the advent of self-checkout, whereas a local shopping trip can be a really sociable experience.

Know the origin of your produce. After the horsemeat issues of the past year many shoppers have wanted to know more about the origins of their food. Supermarket labels will often give the country of origin, but very little additional information about where the product has come from and how it has been produced. On the other hand, when you shop locally, your shopkeeper should be able to provide far more details about the food chain, especially if you shop at a local farmer’s market where the produce will have come direct from local farms.
Biffo & Spanky Deli (behind the Farmhouse)
Try something different. When most people visit the supermarket they have a fixed route through the store, buying the same items they are familiar with every time. Supermarkets are generally too large for further exploration and we only usually try something new if it is on special offer. With smaller local shops however, it is far easier to investigate everything they have to offer, and to try out new flavours or varieties that would otherwise have passed us by. 

Enjoy a full sensory experience. While large supermarkets can be a little bland, independent local shops offer a wide experience of sights, sounds, and smells. Local retailers are starting to realise the importance of customer experience in competing with out-of-town or online shops, and are putting a lot of effort into making a visit to their store a unique and enjoyable event. A Saturday morning soaking up the atmosphere of your local shops can be more rewarding than a trip to the nearest retail park. 

Save petrol and get some exercise. Depending on where you live there are probably some shops within walking, or at least cycling distance. Leave the car at home and get some exercise, as well as reducing petrol consumption and helping the environment, when you visit the shops in your locality.

Local shops and services form the heart of our communities, and many people are starting to see the benefits of supporting them. In West Malling we’re lucky enough to have a vibrant centre with independent shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and a fabulous range of services. A visit to the centre of West Malling can be very rewarding, and you can be sure there will always be something new to catch your eye.

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