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Ethical business   |   Local sourcing

Shop local online this Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast, but with most small local shops closed during the second lockdown and possibly beyond, many of us are having to shop online instead this year – with internet giant Amazon the most popular choice.

There are big problems with this though. All the tax revenue these smaller businesses would normally generate is being siphoned away from the economy and our communities. Amazon has quite rightly been criticised for tax avoidance in the UK, among other practices, leading to calls to boycott the firm.  

Ethical Consumer magazine states that around 75 per cent of Amazon’s UK revenue each year is registered through the company’s Luxembourg subsidiary Amazon EU Sarl. Although there has been a massive surge in trade during the pandemic, with Amazon’s UK profits growing by more than a third, their tax bill rose just three per cent. Without the correct taxes being collected, they can’t be redistributed to support us during the current recession, fund our schools and the NHS, or help rebuild the economy.  


So although it’s tempting to go for ‘one click’ options and free postage that a mega retailer offers, it is the local shops and, ultimately, us that will be paying the cost. Cheap goods often go hand in hand with bad practice, both environmentally and for workers living with poor working conditions. The resulting cheaper prices mean Amazon can eat up a bigger share of sales, making little companies more vulnerable to closure, especially during the current crisis. 

The good news is that how we shop really does make a difference. We can create positive change and feel happier with our purchases. When you choose an alternative to Amazon you will find things that are out of the ordinary and get a more personalised shopping experience too. In terms of added value, the feel-good factor is not to be dismissed; knowing we can support others even a little at this challenging time is great. 

Xmas shopping
You can still do Christmas shopping with independent businesses online during lockdown. 

As we can’t go out gift shopping on the high street, use that extra bit of time to grab a cuppa and engage with a bit more in-depth online browsing. Does the local shop you like have a website? If not, you could support other small businesses online instead. You will find your favourites, but here’s a quick selection of some great alternatives to try for starters: 

- Newly-launched offers an easy way to support local, independent bookshops with every sale. It is exciting, innovative and their curated booklists are amazing – making it very easy to buy for even the trickiest person on your list.

Etsy and Folksy are great platforms for craftspeople. With no Christmas markets on the cards this year, this kind of online space is vital for micro businesses. 

Not On The High Street has the great slogan ‘Give happy, shop small’ and is an online shopfront for UK artisans and small creative companies. 

Ethical Superstore, Ethical market and Natural Collection are great go-to sites for eco gifts, and Ethical Consumer has a great guide to buying online, too.  



10 Months

Thanks for this article. I normally see myself as pretty good about supporting the high street & independents but was about to order some pens & a game on Amazon. Thanks to your article I've changed & ordered the pens from a local shop I'd hate to see close and will wait until the shops reopen to buy the game from a local independent. It's a Christmas present anyway so there's no hurry. I've also ordered a load more presents from ethical websites and feel really positive about my Christmas shopping. Thanks for the reminder and the prompt!

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10 Months

That's so great - every purchase does make a difference, and it is fantastic your local shop have your support.

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10 Months

I have never bought from Amazon but have bought from Natural Collection in the past. Unfortunately my recent experience of shopping with Natural Collection would not look out of place in a sitcom ( although it wasn’t funny at the time). I can only assume that the pandemic has hit them hard (although if others have managed....) .Shame the bookshop wasn’t around sooner.

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Becky Blench

Becky is a lifestyle and food writer for Wicked Leeks and a Riverford co-owner, where she works as PR and social media assistant. Creativity is at the heart of her career journey as an artist and craftsperson, having worked for over a decade in sustainable design and shoemaking in Devon. Feeling part of something that brings positive change is important to her, and partly why she chose to work at Riverford. Outside work, she is happiest when drawing nature and enjoying good food with friends. 

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The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

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