Spend mindfully and locally. For a stronger and more resilient economy to emerge, those who can afford to need to start spending. It's going to get our country back to (a new) normal quicker. All the better if that's local.
Ordinarily, says Nick Tuffley, chief economist at the ASB, we make our individual spending choices largely on financial measures. Often it comes down to cost.
The unprecedented world we live in currently has encouraged many of us to add non-financial benefits to those spending choices, such as what makes us happiest.
That happiness might be our local cafe surviving Covid-19, says Tuffley. If sufficient people do the same in their spending bubbles we start to make a difference, he says. "In the short term, it's something that may well make a difference." To do so, however, we need to be confident to spend.
The more I thought this week about what spending "mindfully" and "locally" means, the murkier the question became. Many of my friends are focussed on the local shops and favourite cafes they recognise. But is the multinational fast-food chain in your locality, local? What about the chain's local workers and the suppliers?
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Sales figures show 'carnage' in retail sector during level 3 lockdown
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Retail NZ welcomes alert level 3 restriction details
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Lockdown pulls retail spend to record-low territory
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Food and retail deliveries allowed during alert level 3
Don't stop thinking there. Our individual spending bubbles also include all those upstairs businesses and local tradies that all need to earn to keep our communities vibrant. Those spending bubbles may also include the areas we work in or visit regularly. Businesses, for example, in downtown Auckland are really struggling with so few of us at work, as the people behind Auckland's Heart of the City directory point out.
Spending "locally" if we're being mindful can also include products made/sold elsewhere in New Zealand. "It's easy for Kiwis to see local cafes, but hard [for them] to see the supply chain, says Ryan Jennings, executive director of the Buy New Zealand Made Campaign.
If, for example, we choose Rainbow Confectionery chocolate fish over foreign-made ones we're helping to keep 110 jobs in Ōamaru, which benefits all of us indirectly. When you choose to buy any item, says Jennings, turn it over and look for the New Zealand Made label.
We do, of course, need to spend according to our financial ability. If you've lost an income you can still shop mindfully within your budget. For example, says Jennings, an 850g pack of Harraways oats at $3.29 and a pot of Anathoth jam at $4.30 is enough to feed the entire family breakfast for a week and support local businesses at the same time.
Devonport and Takapuna local board member Toni van Tonder, who previously ran the Devonport Business Improvement District programme is grateful that Kiwis are now opening the dialogue around shopping locally.
We're supporting our neighbours and that has a feel-good factor wrapped up in it. "The more money circulating around, the more community goodwill is circulating," Van Tonder says.
Prior to Covid-19, Van Tonder fielded complaints that the local village centre had no butcher or some other types of day-to-day shops. The catch 22 was that locals weren't buying enough from the existing businesses, meaning potential new ones didn't see sufficient local spending to make a business viable. "No one is going to open a business unless you support what is out there already," says Van Tonder.
Our new-found willingness to shop locally is a win for sustainability, community cohesion, the environment and the vibrancy of local town centres, she says. "If you have a vibrant town centre that is more prosperous, you are going to create more local jobs for locals."
The more thought we put into buying locally the better for all of us. Widen your net by visiting local business directories, the Buy New Zealand Made directory and many Facebook pages and websites that have sprung up in lockdown to promote local. But remember to look after yourself and your own money first.
Finally, just which local businesses you support in the end is a deeply personal decision and you can only do your best. Please don't be critical of others' decisions.