The previous year alone brought with it a fair share of unfortunate events. An unprecedented global pandemic spread so quickly that it exposed the inefficiencies riddled within the healthcare of various national governments. Natural disasters, which have been increasing in intensity and frequency over the past few years, ravaged several parts of the world revealing the urgent need to declare a climate crisis.
More importantly, the world also entered an economic slump due to the pandemic and countless lockdown measures established by multiple countries. Many experts forecast that the current global recession is the deepest since World War II.
The effect that the pandemic has had on international trade and the global economy cannot be ignored. Given the current realities that the world is facing, both environmentally and economically, supporting local economies may lead to a way out. If locally-owned businesses continue to see an increase in their consumers and receive sufficient business assistance or support services for various needs, things could begin to look up.
Market globalization is not necessarily a bad thing. It allowed the demands of consumers for goods that are otherwise unavailable in their locales, or much cheaper to source elsewhere, to be fulfilled. This is not to say that it did not come with its own societal and environmental ramifications.
Within the current context of a global pandemic, the movement of international goods has been severely hindered. Of course, countries would much rather choose to close their borders in hopes of mitigating the virus and reducing the risk of transmission.
This fact is one of the primary drivers that pushed consumers to shift into buying locally. Many people have increasingly become more socially-aware in light of the several challenges that came in the previous year. Supporting local businesses, however, also has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Buying Local
Reinvigorating Local Economies
Purchasing goods that are locally-sourced is a great way to help stimulate a community’s economy. Local businesses are as much an important engine in contributing to the growth of a nation’s economy just as international trade.
Providing support for a local business poses numerous benefits. It can create or retain jobs, especially during this time of uncertainty for many professionals. The community is able to generate significant revenue. These, in turn, allow families to be supported and local cultures to be nurtured.
Suppliers Right Around The Corner
Buying locally translates to advocating for the environment. The goods from a local market undoubtedly take less time to pass through the entire chain from suppliers to sellers to consumers. This certainly reduces the emissions that are produced from transportation, which is often overlooked, by a substantial amount.
Consumers are also able to ensure the quality of local goods. Particular products often have to pass regional and national standards before being suitable to enter the market. The manufacturing process for these goods is much more accessible and transparent to customers as opposed to foreign goods.
Fosters Community Growth
Finally, local markets allow for stronger community ties to develop. Consumers have been observed to remain loyal and patronize local businesses more especially during times of crisis. Moreover, given the small-scale setting, there are more opportunities for businesses to interact with one another and possibly promote collaboration in support of each other’s brands.
Disadvantages of Buying Local
Just because some goods are produced locally, it does not automatically make them environmentally-friendly, difficult as it may be to admit. The equipment necessary to create these products should also be taken into consideration when looking at their environmental impact.
Often, local businesses lack certain supplies to create their goods from beginning to end. If particular pieces of equipment still have to be shipped or transported to fulfill this, then that basically cancels out any environmentally-perceived benefits the product may have.
Local businesses are generally unable to keep up with larger manufacturers. There is an apparent disparity in terms of budget, efficiency, and energy-related matters.
For instance, local manufacturers may not have the same amount of accessibility to cleaner, alternative sources of power, like solar energy, compared to a bigger manufacturing plant. Essentially, this also reduces the “greenness” of a product. Larger businesses could also have more to spend on machinery and other means to make their production more efficient and consistent.
What’s in Store?
Market conditions and consumer practices can easily be influenced by a global crisis. Lifestyles are changed drastically and with it, the global economy. The COVID-19 pandemic stands as a testament to this reality.
Going into 2021 and beyond, expect international trade to remain at a minimum. Does this make focusing on buying local goods a much better alternative to restore the current state of the world’s economy? The answer is still highly dependent on how markets will react in the months and years to come, but it’s a start.