It’s recently been announced that the big four supermarket chains – Asda, Tesco, Sainbury’s and Morrisons – will be opening 625 new stores across Britain in the next three years. These new stores will create 32,000 new jobs, which in this current climate of mass unemployment can only be a good thing, can’t it?

You only have to walk around any part of Birmingham to see the effects these giants have had on the high street. Chain stores are forcing independent retailers out of the city centre, and there are seemingly hundreds of vacant properties where rent is simply too high for emerging businesses. As such, much of Birmingham’s become a monotonous walkway, with supermarkets on every corner and vacant plots predictably becoming chain stores after a few months. With VAT going up, job losses looming and supermarkets being encouraged to spread their empires into every corner, is there any hope for independent retailers?

The thing to remember is that these stores are only successful because shoppers continue to spend money there. The first step to supporting local businesses is to only use the supermarkets as a last resort and buy your groceries from the wealth of butchers, greengrocers and other independent food retailers in and around Birmingham whenever you can.

 Supporting local businesses is the same as supporting your community. The money spent in these shops will be retained locally and spent locally, helping the whole area to improve financially. Many of the big supermarkets offer incentives to local governments in return for planning permission, such as public amenities and large sums of money for town improvements. Whilst this looks amicable, it’s a way of large supermarkets ensuring they can build wherever they want, no matter whom they are putting out of business.

 The take home message here is that by supporting independent shops in your community, you’re supporting the community as a whole. Independent food retailers will source products locally and offer quality goods. It’s often true that these products may be a little more expensive, but I feel it’s worth the extra money for the peace of mind gained from knowing my products haven’t had to travel far to get to my plate, so excess fuel has not had to be used, and my money stays in the community and not in the hands of these corporate giants.