With a goal of stopping or slowing dollars from leaving the community, civic organizations such as chambers of commerce often initiate buy-local campaigns. The intent is to either make citizens aware of the impact of lost retail sales on the local economy or to make them feel guilty for shopping out-of-town.
Citizens prefer to shop and dine locally. I came to this conclusion after conducting numerous focus groups and interview of citizens and civic leaders in a variety of communities of different sizes and economies. Citizens leave their community to shop and dine when their local options are limited by selection, quality or price.
Citizens will shop and dine locally when they have selection, quality and price options. The question is: Do buy-local campaigns increase shopper’s selection, quality or price options? Arguably they do not have a lasting impact on what citizen’s need to shop at home.
The reality is for civic leaders is to recognize that they are currently deficient in serving the retail needs of citizens and to take a long-range approach to growing and diversifying their retail base by increasing selection, quality and price options.