Driving around Charlottesville, you’d be hard pressed to go more than a few blocks without eventually coming face to face with the back end of a Volvo or Subaru sporting a "Buy Fresh Buy Local" bumper sticker. But as prevalent as the sentiment seems to be, is the movement actually a movement? That is to say, are people actually buying locally – and does it matter?
If the Local Food Hub’s early success is any indication, then yes, our community is committed to supporting local food. In less than a year, we’ve gotten up and running and beat every initial goal we set for ourselves. But if you’re looking for something less anecdotal and more facts, figures and numbers, well, you’re in luck because the numbers for 2009 have been crunched.
A national survey of more than 1,800 independently owned businesses found that not only did more holiday shoppers seek out locally owned businesses this year, independent retailers in cities with active "Buy Independent / Buy Local" or "Local First" campaigns reported stronger holiday sales than those in cities without such campaigns.
In cold hard numbers, it looks like this:
- Independent retailers in cities with Buy Local campaigns reported an average increase in holiday sales of 3 percent.
- Independent retailers in cities without a campaign reported an increase of 1.0 percent, while the national average was a mere .75 percent.
Clearly, Buy Local campaigns are having an impact in communities across America.
This is good news, especially if you recall a recent report by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. They found that if every Virginia household spent just $10 per week on locally grown food, they would invest more than $137 million back into local farms, independent businesses, and the community every month.
That adds up to more than $1.65 billion invested in Virginia’s communities each year. One more reason to think globally and shop locally.
image credit: Phil LaCombe/Creative Commons