Ditch the online shopping cart and shop local to keep in the true spirit of the season

I noticed it while driving into town the other day – it was hard to miss. There was a fluttering in the streets again. The Christmas lights were on and there was a sense of celebration in the air. It wasn’t just the city – at Mass the Advent candles had reappeared and we were now officially counting down the weeks until the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Christmas brings with it all sorts of memories, like returning emigrant friends home for those short days, dinner with the family, and a few drinks at the local pub.

It’s a time to celebrate, a time to connect and after two busy years with Covid, it’s a time to relax.

We’ve had all sorts of curveballs thrown at us in recent years – the Covid lockdowns, Putin’s war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.

Christmas is a time of togetherness, a time of thanksgiving, but also – and we don’t want to deny that – a time of consumption. We shop and shop more.

There are those who just as eagerly await the New Year’s sale as they do a turkey meal. There is nothing inherently wrong with all of these merchandise purchases, as we want to shower affection on those we love, from a child receiving a gift from Santa to a parent we want to show our appreciation to.

But how much will we spend this Christmas? How much do we want to spend? As reported by RTÉ, Retail Ireland estimates that “each household will spend €978 more in December than every other month”.

All of that extra spending adds up to €5.39 billion over the month. That is 1.86 billion euros more than in the other months of the year. The additional spending comes after a period when retail sales last month fell for the sixth consecutive month on an annualized basis. It’s a sign that inflation is holding back what people want before the shopping season gets into full swing.

For example, sales in October fell by 2.6 percent compared to the same month last year. They were stable in September, with volumes up just 0.7 percent.

The cost-of-living crisis isn’t just affecting consumer goods — grocery spending has also fallen, with food and beverage purchases down 8.9 percent year-on-year.

Data from the Kantar Research Group shows that consumers paid significantly more for their grocery store this year.

People are enjoying a drink in the pub again, but those bar sales are 7.5 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. This Christmas many people will adopt a Scrooge-like attitude towards spending.

It’s a time of caution, a time to watch our money, but it’s also a time to think of our country. Buying local and staying local benefits the economy of our towns and villages.

When I returned to Ireland seven years ago, I promised to shop locally in towns and villages near me. I had seen the damage giant online corporations had wreaked on America and the hollowed out communities they had left in their wake.

It’s a promise I keep to this day. According to the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association, every €10 spent on Irish produce brings more than €40 in benefits to the local community.

This approach not only keeps money in the local economy, but creates and sustains local jobs. Businesses buy from nearby businesses and use goods and services from nearby retailers.

As I walk around my city, I see businesses that work hard to provide quality service. We have fashion shops and family butchers and don’t need to go to Dublin to shop.

It’s a feeling that makes you proud of your hometown. Instead of saying we’re going to Dublin or Galway for our big shop, we can now say, ‘Come to Longford or Roscommon or Carrick-on-Shannon. Come to our cities because we have everything you need.”

Buying local produce keeps artisans and other producers in jobs, and shopping locally has a lower carbon footprint, so it’s a win-win.

With everything going on in the world, it is an uncertain time for everyone. We don’t know what the new year will bring.

I firmly believe in the 20-year rule: If we don’t support our shops and companies now, where will we be in 20 years?

The battle for local Ireland, for rural Ireland, is happening right in the middle of this battle with the overseas conglomerates. Amazon won’t sponsor the village soccer team, but your local mechanic or greengrocer might.

We must work today to protect our local economies or we will undermine our future communities of tomorrow.

It’s going to be an expensive Christmas, but now it’s more important than ever to think about our local businesses, with all the costs that come with it. This 20-year rule applies to so much in this society.

We will give and we will receive in this Christmas season, and like it or not, there is a consumerist aspect to this time of year. Let’s not throw away everything good about our communities – let’s keep the money in the local economy and keep towns and villages alive.

I’ll be making my rounds of Longford Town over the next few weeks and still delivering on my promise.

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/ditch-the-online-basket-and-shop-locally-to-maintain-the-true-spirit-of-the-season-42189563.html Ditch the online shopping cart and shop local to keep in the true spirit of the season

Fry Electronics Team

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