• Jonathan Banks

Quo Vadis? Shop local!

Updated: Jan 31

Some thoughts from Hillingdon Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary Spokesperson: Jonathan Banks

Like most LibDems, I accept most issues aren’t black and white, with pros and cons on both sides of the argument. Your solution to a problem can inadvertently create an even bigger one.

If we reduce the argument to purely what makes us financially better, we might also end up in the wrong place. For example, manufacturing arms creates highly paid employment, but then it’s easy to identify problems with countries we allow exports to.

And you may be asking: “what’s that got to do with where I shop?”

Well…60 years ago, on average, 33% of household expenditure was spent on food. Now that’s down to just 10% enabling more to be spent on life enhancing discretionary choices. How has that happened? Some of the reasons include:

  • More efficient and cheaper sourcing of raw ingredients

  • Larger farms, with increased automation, and more sophisticated management

  • Consolidation and specialization of food manufacturers reduces production costs

  • The consolidation of grocery retailing:

  • Major multiples dominate, creating a highly competitive grocery industry

  • with economies of scale that would not otherwise exist

  • and continuous downward pressure on costs and retail prices

Retailers of other product categories have also struggled. Bookshops, travel agents, record shops, and department stores have all suffered as on-line shopping has expanded customer choice, value, and convenience. Retailers wishing to formulate a winning strategy have to try to answer the question: “what is it that Amazon can’t do?”

Meanwhile, we can choose which retailers deserve our custom, and make informed choices as to which ones we don’t wish to use.

Your decision-making process could include questions such as:

  • Do its suppliers behave ethically?

  • Does the retailer treat its suppliers fairly?

  • Does the retailer treat its staff fairly?

  • Does the retailer pay its fair share of tax

  • As distinct from the legal minimum it can get away with

  • Is there a lower CO2e emission alternative?

  • Does this retailer enhance the community?


Finally, you may easily find that your local independent store’s pricing is competitive with the alternatives. I urge you to try them and help our high streets retain their individual character!

Note: these are Jonathan’s personal views which don’t necessarily reflect LibDem policy (although they often do)!


P.S. Join the debate here, and on Twitter at @Jonathan_MBanks