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COLUMN: Shopping locally stimulates the economy – BCLocalNews

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By Tom Thomson

For many of us, holiday shopping lists still linger as we hit the streets hoping to stretch our spending as far as possible. Keep your shopping close to home and buy locally where a purchase at a local store or restaurant has the greatest community impact.

The reasons for shopping locally can easily be forgotten in a cyber shopping world but the fact is, keeping money circulating in our greater community is an important consumer decision for us, and one that needs to be top of mind, something the Chamber of Commerce has been working on over the years

All these folks — shopkeepers, restaurateurs, retailers, service providers, professionals and more — live and work in our region and they’re already spending their dollars in our community or region. They pay for salaries, supplies, rent, taxes, utilities and so on. They also stay in the community and buy their groceries, clothe their kids and rely on local services such as hairdressers and accountants. The effects are far-reaching and important.

The fourth quarter of the year is significant for businesses but for retail it is critical. This is when they make a substantial part of their annual revenue, counting on a surplus in the last final months to keep the doors open in the cold months of January and February. Now is the time to show your support for the work they do.

We live in the age of online shopping. Most everything we might need is available with a few keystrokes. The lure of Amazon, with a multitude of merchandise options and free delivery beckons. No traffic, no parking hassles, no crowds. Why, then, would we choose to shop locally?

There is no real methodology keeping track of how much money flows out of the area from shopping excursions, or online purchases, but you can safely say it is in the millions of dollars. Those dollars would be put to much better use keeping our own regional economy vibrant, creating or at the very least retaining jobs!

Local shops, restaurants, and services create jobs that keep the economy stable, and the property taxes, sales taxes and payroll taxes help support services we have come to expect and what many deem essential to our community. When was the last time Amazon sponsored your local soccer team, or supported Mural Fest or a performance at the Capitol Theatre?

Shopping locally is the most basic form of trickle-down economics — and we all stand to gain. Successful businesses give thousands of dollars a year to much-needed local charities. A thriving business sector contributes to the coffers of the municipality through taxes, helping to fund all manner of public works, from parks to sidewalks, that enhance the quality of life for everyone.

As homeowners, we have watched our monthly bills increase dramatically through the years. For businesses, take those expenses, double them, or even more, add in payroll costs and other business expenses and you see the pressures.

Costs of leases have been squeezed upwards as landlords pass along increases in municipal, regional, and provincial business levies. Water, sewer, and hydro costs continue a steep upward curve for homeowners, but for businesses, the local commercial tax multiplier is over two times what residential tax increases have been, and utility rates for water, sewer, hydro etc. are also at a fixed rate higher than personal residences.

In some ways, I get it. By shopping online, you are just trying to get the best deal, find a greater selection and keep the costs lower for you and your family, but at what cost to our community?

When you shop in our region, you’ll find our local businesses offer a great selection with competitive pricing and quality that’s second-to-none, local experts with product knowledge you won’t find online, plus home-grown customer service and easy return policies.

In addition to the vital economy we all want, there are other benefits to shopping locally. For example, it is true that most business owners employ an array of supporting services by buying locally themselves. They hire architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and building contractors/developers for construction and local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, and attorneys to help run it.

Local owners, typically having invested much of their life savings in their businesses, have a natural interest in the community’s long-term health.

As a community we should continue to Think Local First so shopping locally is our first choice. We have wonderful retail, accommodation, dining, and service providers in the Nelson area. If you find what you want locally, if the price is competitive and the quality meets your needs, your decision should be easy: Buy it here!

Tom Thomson is the executive director of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce

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Economy

Canadian retail sales slide in April, May as COVID-19 shutdown bites

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december retail sales

Canadian retail sales plunged in April and May, as shops and other businesses were shuttered amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

Retail trade fell 5.7% in April, the sharpest decline in a year, missing analyst forecasts of a 5.0% drop. In a preliminary estimate, Statscan said May retail sales likely fell by 3.2% as store closures dragged on.

“April showers brought no May flowers for Canadian retailers this year,” Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Statscan said that 5.0% of retailers were closed at some point in April. The average length of the closure was one day, it said, citing respondent feedback.

Sales decreased in nine of the 11 subsectors, while core sales, which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicles, were down 7.6% in April.

Clothing and accessory store sales fell 28.6%, with sales at building material and garden equipment stores falling for the first time in nine months, by 10.4%.

“These results continue to suggest that the Bank of Canada is too optimistic on the growth outlook for the second quarter, even if there is a solid rebound occurring now in June,” Mendes said.

The central bank said in April that it expects Canada’s economy to grow 6.5% in 2021 and signaled interest rates could begin to rise in the second half of 2022.

The Canadian dollar held on to earlier gains after the data, trading up 0.3% at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, editing by Alexander Smith)

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Economy

Canadian dollar notches a 6-day high

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Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar strengthened for a third day against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, as oil prices rose and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reassured markets that the central bank is not rushing to hike rates.

Markets were rattled last week when the Fed shifted to more hawkish guidance. But Powell on Tuesday said the economic recovery required more time before any tapering of stimulus and higher borrowing costs are appropriate, helping Wall Street recoup last week’s decline.

Canada is a major producer of commodities, including oil, so its economy is highly geared to the economic cycle.

Brent crude rose above $75 a barrel, reaching its highest since late 2018, after an industry report on U.S. crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents, after touching its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2265.

The currency also gained ground on Monday and Tuesday, clawing back some of its decline from last week.

Canadian retail sales fell by 5.7% in April from March as provincial governments put in place restrictions to tackle a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said. A flash estimate showed sales down 3.2% in May.

Still, the Bank of Canada expects consumer spending to lead a strong rebound in the domestic economy as vaccinations climb and containment measures ease.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a steeper curve, with the 10-year up nearly 1 basis point at 1.416%. Last Friday, it touched a 3-1/2-month low at 1.364%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Economy

Toronto Stock Exchange higher at open as energy stocks gain

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Toronto Stock Exchange edged higher at open on Wednesday as heavyweight energy stocks advanced, while data showing a plunge in domestic retail sales in April and May capped the gains.

* At 9:30 a.m. ET (13:30 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.77 points, or 0.08%, at 20,217.42.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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