This is a guest post by Laury Hammel, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Network and Former CLF Board Member
On November 14 the 5th annual Shift Your Shopping holiday campaign launches the 2015 season, encouraging individuals and businesses to “shift” more of their visits for holiday shopping, entertaining and dining to local independent businesses. More than 180 local business organizations across the U.S. and Canada, collectively representing more than 38,000 locally owned and independent businesses, are participating in this collaborative campaign. The campaign continues through December.
Shift Your Shopping was created five years ago by Cambridge Local First and Somerville Local First and its mission is to “build a tradition that strengthens local economies, expands local employment, nurtures a sense of community, and provides a more relaxed, fun, and rewarding holiday shopping experience.”
Grassroots groups like Monadnock Buy Local, the Louisville Independent Business Alliance and others will execute campaigns with their own local flair, using Shift Your Shopping templates as well as incorporating campaigns like Plaid Friday and Cider Monday (pro-local antidotes to the chain-centered Black Friday and “Cyber Monday”).
The campaign also encourages people to employ the energy and resources of Small Business Saturday as part of season-long outreach.
When even marketers whose business is promoting Black Friday report that 79% of their website users don’t like to shop on the day, you know the times are changing! Jen Risley, Executive Director of Monadnock Buy Local, a New Hampshire advocacy group notes that “Shift Your Shopping promotes the community-centered alternative to the consumer frenzy that descends upon us each November.”
The ShiftYourShopping.org website provides a gateway to resources from many community campaigns and includes easy-to-use graphics and activities that allow participants to spread the critical message easily where they live.
A 2015 National Retail Federation survey projects $805 in holiday spending per person this year and sustained “buy local” campaigns have demonstrated their capacity to shift sizable portions of that spending from chains and remote businesses to local entrepreneurs.
Earlier this year, the Institute for Local Self Reliance gathered sales data from more than 3000 independent business. That data revealed independent businesses in communities sustaining year-round “buy local and independent” campaigns run by grassroots groups saw revenues grow 9.3% in 2014. That nearly doubled the 4.9% increase for businesses in areas without such an alliance (see graph for survey results over 3 years).
Becky McCray of Small Business Survival said, “We can opt out of the crowds, and choose when we want to spend our money with local businesses that support our family and community throughout the holidays instead.”
Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, adds that, along with creating local jobs, “We also want people to patronize independents for selfish reasons – enjoying the more relaxed and personal experiences at their local merchants and perhaps connecting with neighbors while doing so.”
See ShiftYourShopping.org for stories of pro-local campaigns, templates for easy customization, and the roster of participating organizations.