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.
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 Bookshop.org 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.
- 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.