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Why local matters

The retail sector in Jasper has been hardest hit according to a recent business survey. P Clarke photo.

The retail sector in Jasper has been hardest hit according to a recent business survey. P Clarke photo.

In an era where it’s often cheaper and in some cases more convenient to buy things online it’s easy to see why people are drawn to its appeal, but our choices can have unintended consequences.

Take for instance news this week that 24 per cent of Jasper’s businesses said they were in a state of decline in 2016 compared to 13 per cent that were growing.

The survey was based on interviews with 113 local businesses conducted in 2014 and again in 2016.

If these numbers hold true that means 27 businesses in Jasper were facing an uncertain future.

The reason why these businesses aren’t doing so well is as varied as the businesses themselves, however the report made it clear the retail sector appears to be hardest hit.

For many in the retail sector the challenges are multifaceted, from high rental prices and labour costs to increased property taxes. However, for just about anyone you ask in the retail sector the biggest challenge is the change in consumer habits.

With the advent of online shopping consumers have been flocking to the internet in droves to buy just about everything and anything, even when it’s readily available down the street, and that’s a problem.

There are plenty of studies that suggest spending locally has a multiplier effect on the local economy.

For example, one study found that every $100 spent at local independent stores generates $45 in secondary spending. The same $100 spent at a big box store only generates $14 in secondary spending.

If Jasperites want to continue living in a thriving community with healthy businesses that employ people, pay taxes and even sponsor local community events, we need to begin supporting them.

This doesn’t mean you should stop shopping online entirely when something isn’t available in Jasper, but pause for a second when you’re considering buying a bike part or a new pair of shoes.

Saving $20 or $30 dollars might help your personal finances, but in the long run we all lose when local, independent stores begin to fail.

So the next time you’re considering making a purchase online, think about what you value more – a cheaper pair of shoes or a prosperous community?

The answer should be easy.

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