In 2012 our founder Jackie Mulligan switched to shopping local (years before ShopAppy began). She wanted to see what difference shopping local would have on her life, mental health, the environment and her budget. Whilst happiness is difficult to measure, every week she calculated how much she had spent and compared it to when she had shopped at a supermarket.
On average she saved over £40 a week by shopping with local shops instead of with the online giants and supermarkets. Alongside how happy she felt shopping with small local businesses in her area, and how much greener she felt with less packaging on what she bought, the savings she was making each week were a welcome and pleasant surprise! A surprise because like many people, Jackie was always told that shopping with local shops was more expensive.
With the Cost of Living Squeeze, here are her timely top tips for shopping local on a budget
1. Saving Money Tip – Avoid tempting offers that leave you out of pocket
At supermarkets and with the online giants, it is easy to be tempted by the BOGOF’s (Buy one, get one free offers) or by the added item that just appears in your basket at the checkout thanks to the cluster of exciting products that appear as you queue. Companies make a fortune in the way they encourage us all to part with cash. In local shops, you find less gimmicks. A buy one, get one free offer might look like a bargain under the bright fluorescent lights of a supermarket, but if you are in a local shop, likely the single item will cost less than in the supermarket. So if you only need one item, buy one item and spend less money. It also means less waste which is a win for the planet as well as your pocket.
2. Save money on food
When buying food, it is easy to overbuy. If you can avoid shopping when you are hungry that helps. Always shop for food after eating something as it staves off the temptation of buying more than you can afford and more than you will ever use. If you are shopping in your lunch hour, go after you have eaten some lunch. It is amazing how much difference it will make to your tendency to impulse buy.
3. Save money by making a list
Plan meals and look at the ingredients you need, write a list and go to your local shops to buy ONLY those items –STICK to the list. Most recipes create left-overs so you will usually have spare for snacks or lunch boxes. When planning your meals think about what food is in season and more readily available – seasonal goods will always be at their best and most affordable when they are in good supply. Here’s a handy guide from the British Dietetic Society on seasonal fruit and vegetables. Make it a challenge to find recipes that are perfect for the month - there are so many online as well as in recipe books where more chefs than ever advocate buying in season for the flavours alone.
4. Check out discounts and loyalty offers
Many local shops offer great special offers and reward loyal customers. There are a variety of loyalty schemes you can join like MyVIP Rewards for example that help you save money. There are local schemes, business schemes and vouchers and specials often announced on social media too. So keep a note and use them … and if you can’t live without that Caffe Latte in a morning, check out whether your independent coffee shop has a card to stamp so you can earn a free one!
5. Save fuel costs
Free delivery is never free really. The premium will be on the price of the item and of course the cost to the planet of having items flown to you or sent in diesel chugging trucks makes no sense. If you are able to walk to local shops instead of driving or having items delivered, you save money – no fuel, no parking fees or fines either. 10 million people live less than 200 metres from a high street – so just imagine what our local high streets could offer, if more of us took a walk to our local high street for our daily or weekly shop. Of course on ShopAppy you can browse online to see what there is and order for click and collect too – but a walk if you can, is so much better for your health as well as your wealth.
At home look at what you can save on energy costs - can you group together with neighbours to get insulated more, look at group buying and local grants to save energy costs - the less we depend on fuel for cars and our households, the more we can save.
6. Plan ahead
Leaving gifts to the last minute produces more than stress, it can cost you more. Panic-buying often means over-buying and if you are waiting for that seasonal sale – Beware! Particularly online, deals can seem better than they are – Black Friday deals for example have been shown to be fake in the majority of cases. Planning what is coming up – the birthdays, valentines, anniversaries etc. putting more thought into what you buy friends and loved ones can pay dividends. Something small and thoughtful can feel so much more special to people and will be remembered. Craft shops provide items for you to make our own gifts and local shopkeepers selling gifts, games, books, clothing, experiences, homeware, beauty products and more are always willing to give advice no matter what your budget.
The more you plan, the more personal you can make the gift. It might take more time, but you might even enjoy the process of gift-buying and giving a little bit more too. And for occasions like Christmas, if you do buy throughout the year, you can be the smuggest person in the room- all sorted weeks ahead of the festivities!
Whatever you spend, however little or much, spend it wisely
So it is possible to save money when all of us are feeling the squeeze. The message here is if you have less to spend, then spending it wisely is best. When you spend with a local business, you are not only getting something great, you are also making sure more of your money is staying local and helping your community. Go discover local businesses you can support right here. And if you have not got ShopAppy in your area, get in touch with us on [email protected]