Illustrated by Luke Watson @shpakle

High street shops have been left to wither on the vine for years and with Covid 19 lockdown measures and Amazon’s absolute appropriation of online retail, 2020 has been widely cited as the final nail in the coffin for small retailers. However, as a new virtual delivery service with a focus on zero emissions and local produce launches in Brighton & Hove, we can now shop in safety and support the city while watching Britain’s Got Talent at the same time!

Within the first few weeks of launching, almost twenty, weird and wonderful local businesses are already on board offering over 320 food, drink, fashion and homeware products, which range from locally-made beer to Bend Over Beginners Strap On kits and vibrators.

Click It Local was established to support local businesses, provide convenience and reduce retail’s carbon footprint and Brighton was a ‘natural fit’ for the platform, according to the company’s founder Steve Koch. He explained: “Famous for its wide range of shops and consumers, we wanted to be able to help the Brighton community keep its local independents in business as well as support Brighton customers in having more choice.” Speaking of choice, the service has already proved popular with a diverse smorgasbord of local retailers – including Brighton Pier beer, Bison beer, The Great British Charcuterie, Hi Cacti, Old Tree Brewery and She Said Boutique – with some businesses seeing it as a ‘lifeline during these tough times’.

Local beer craft beer distillers, Big Hug Brewery, has previously only stocked its beverages in pubs and shops around town but this new platform has opened the opportunity for them to go straight to consumers. Matt Williams, Big Hug’s co-founder, said: “Click It Local is a great concept to allow the independence of Brighton to continue to thrive and be supported in these strange times. It also gives people another option to Amazon that supports local businesses.”

Click It Local is by no means alone in providing local, sustainable and carbon-friendly deliveries during this time with many renowned Brighton brands, including Infinity Foods, Flour Pot Bakery and various pubs and restaurants, all going above and beyond during lockdown to keep the city’s vibrant retail and restaurant scene alive. She Said Erotic Boutique is another ‘unique’ retailer which has embraced the online focus during recent months and also joined Click It Local in May. The store’s owner, Nic Ramsey, highlighted the platform’s appeal in its ability to reflect Brighton’s personality. “We’re not your average shop,” she said with a chuckle. “Our products are different and our USP is being able to provide something you can’t find anywhere else, be that sex toys or a space where people come for advice on so many different levels.

“With Click It Local, wherever it is launched, it should reflect what is happening in each town or city. In Brighton, it’s appropriate that we have risqué stuff alongside sustainable and artisan products s h o w c a s i n g interesting and unusual businesses and setting it apart from the Amazon’s of the world. It’s all about a personal, local touch as opposed to the faceless entity of Amazon which is just so vast. When you pop into a local shop, you’re in such a special environment. It’s the difference between a hotel and a home.”

In the 21st century, it’s clear convenience is king. A recent YouGov analysis reports how more than 60 percent of millennials and Generation Z buy clothes and accessories online, with Amazon being the most popular online retailer. Although the ease of digital shopping is wonderful in terms of lifestyle and getting everything in one place, simply logging onto Amazon for all your needs and desires can be detrimental to our local economy, our communities, and most importantly, ourselves. News that Jeff Bezos’, founder and boss of Amazon, wealth has surged by $24bn (£19bn) after increased online demand should have caused us to flock to the streets in protest, but we couldn’t because lockdown, and because Tiger King was on.

Commenting on Amazon’s financial growth and Bezos’ personal wealth upswell in recent months, Click It Local’s Steve Koch said: “Amazon pulls in billions, which has increased as a result of lockdown based on the simple fact of convenience, by enabling shoppers to be able to order everything in one place and get it delivered fast! It’s a shame that Amazon has been the only option for many in lockdown, ‘stealing’ billions of revenue that would have been destined for local independent stores around the world.”

The fault doesn’t simply lay at the feet of Amazon and other retail giants, some media outlets have reported the flipside of the Amazon share price growth, highlighting how Bezos’ company has spent at least £3.2bn in response to the coronavirus outbreak and recruited 175,000 additional staff to cope with the increase in orders. Much like the big b r a n d supermarkets, it’s vital to have Amazon, Sainsburys, Tesco, Morrisons, etc. which can create much needed jobs and keep the economy afloat whilst also providing sustenance for rich or poor alike.

Supermarkets have all provided invaluable support for millions during recent months with thousands of staff putting their health at risk to stay open for consumers. However, it’s also clear that in doing this we have ensured that household spend is predominantly going to major corporations and lining the pockets of FTSE100 players at the expense of small, independent retailers who are the backbone of communities up and down the country.

“They [Amazon] might be raking in billions but, in all honesty, they are giving people the opportunity to access a HUGE variety of products from one place, so you can’t knock them for that,” stated Big Hug’s Matt Williams. “What I don’t like though is that they don’t or can’t consolidate orders and deliver everything together, like Click it Local, so the environmental impact is really bad. And the amount of cardboard and packaging with Amazon orders, that’s really poor too!”

In addition to its focus on local communities, Click it Local is also ensuring its business maintains a sustainable footprint in the city. “We naturally have a low carbon footprint because all items are being collected and delivered locally,” explained Koch. “To further ensure these deliveries within the city do not contribute to pollution we only use zero emission electric bikes and Vehicles to deliver with courier being paid fairly on a living wage.”

As local businesses fight to balance creating revenue and adapting to new, sustainable methods which protect the planet, it’s clear there is a need for initiatives like Click It Local to lend a helping hand and for retailers to protest with their wallets in a bid to fight big corporations and drive systemic eco-focused change. She Said’s Nic Ramsey concluded: “There are tough times ahead in many ways, but hopefully good things will come out and as a society we can change the way we work, the way we shop and the way we live to ensure more appreciation for small people, nature and the environment.”

10 BENEFITS OF SHOPPING LOCALLY

  1. Builds unique culture
  2. Reduces your environmental footprint
  3. Healthier to walk/cycle to the shops
  4. Personal shopping experience
  5. Diverse choice of products
  6. Strengthens local government
  7. Created local jobs
  8. Benefits local charities
  9. Supports local innovation
  10. Strengthens local economy