22 January 2019
The internet makes it easy to buy anything a person desires — or requires — with the tap of a button. Amazon and Google have one tap purchase options that brings the concept of impulse purchasing to new heights. Grocery stores have had to expand into the online marketplace just to compete with services like Amazon Prime Now.
While this is great because it allows people in rural communities to experience material goods that would typically be denied due to distance, a public that relies on and treats online options as a first stop, destroys communities.
During the 2000s, we saw Amazon along with big box stores such as Barnes and Noble drive other businesses to bankruptcy, and sales have continued to decline. According to the Census Bureau, bookstore sales were $684 million in October, which was down 39 percent from a decade ago. According to Hasan Minhj on his show Patriot Act, Amazon did this by operating at losses to earn market share, so that competitors had to close their doors.
When a local business closes its doors, it puts people in that community out of a job, and it can be hard to find a job that pays the same or equal to the one that was lost. When shopping at a local store, even if it’s a big box store, it helps guarantee that money stays in the community through a multiplier effect.
A barrage of studies conducted by the research firm Civic Economics found that, on average, 48 percent of purchases at local, independent businesses was recirculated locally and less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores. Data is nearly impossible to collect for money spent online because there is no telling where it goes.
The multiplier effects first element: direct impact, is the spending done by a business to operate it, including utilities, equipment and pay to employees.
The multiplier effect applies to the food we eat as well, and if we purchase from local growers then we reduce the transportation costs of our food, and reduce our carbon impact in the process.
If we want to live in a community, it makes sense to take actions that support and develop the community. When we purchase online, we need to take time to weigh the impacts and decide whether or not we can find something locally, even if it’s at big box stores, instead of opening our browsers to buy stuff from sellers somewhere else in the world.