Buying local campaigns have been around for a long, long time. Australia has had many of these programmes due to the nature of our economy, i.e. exporting raw materials (e.g. mining, farming) and importing many manufactured goods.

The problem with most campaigns has been that the evidence to say that the campaign works (or not) has been virtually non-existent. This has meant consumers and many businesses have become very cynical and unsupportive of ‘buy local’ campaigns.

Recent data from the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) puts to rest any doubt as to whether ‘buy local’ campaigns work.

Firstly, for any independent business participating in ‘buy local’ campaigns, there is an investment to be made. As a business, you’re going to have to contribute time or money (and probably both) to get the campaign off the ground. And you’re going to want a return on your investment!

Well now you can relax. Businesses whose communities who ran ‘buy local’ campaigns had an average growth rate of at least double that of a business in a community who did not run a ‘buy local’ campaign (3 years of data). In the difficult economic conditions we are in right now, particularly retail, such a result is welcome news.

Secondly, for any community considering a ‘buy local’ campaign, there has to be benefits for the local community, a return on investment of a different type.

AMIBA data tells us that each dollar spent at a local business returns 3 times more money to our local economy than one spent at a national business and nearly 50 times more than one spent at a remote online business.

Or to put this another way, for every $100 you spend, if you spend at a local independent business, $48 is returned to the local economy. If you spend that same $100 at a national business, $14 is returned to the local economy. If you spend that same $100 at a remote online business, only $1 is returned to the local economy (and that’s the delivery driver!)

Thirdly, local independent businesses provide different types of jobs within the local economy to that of national or multinational’s. They are frequently the only source of skilled job opportunities. Skilled workers are extremely valuable to local economies as other jobs are created because of presence of the skilled labour.

Data shows for every skilled job created, 2.5 jobs are created in the local goods and services sectors and 1 additional unskilled job is created. This employment pattern simply does not occur with national and multinational businesses as they locate their skilled labour mainly in capital cities.

Not only do local businesses employ more people locally per dollar of revenue, creating local jobs and opportunities but these local businesses are customers of other local businesses like printers, IT services, wholesalers etc. thereby expanding opportunities for other local businesses.

So, next time you’re out shopping, look at the name above the door. If it’s a local independent business, you’re helping shape your local community as a distinct, individual personality by supporting local business and you’re strengthening our local economy. Well done you!


  1. American Independent Business Alliance – ‘The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Businesses’ 2015
  2. Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash
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