Tis the season to be socially conscious…

Tis the season to be socially conscious…

Tis the season to be socially conscious…

Much has changed since last Christmas. As Christmas looms over the horizon of this decidedly tumultuous 2020, we might expect consumers to be purchasing fewer gifts and buying more gifts online. But more Canadians than ever are prioritizing socially conscious gift giving this year.

It may take a bit more work to shop local in a pandemic, but there are tools to help.

Socially conscious gift giving

An online survey of 2,030 Canadian Mastercard users paints a distinctly positive picture of shoppers priorities this season. What issues are forefront on Canadian shoppers’ minds?

  • Local Business: 79% of Canadians respondents intended to support small, minority-owned, women-owned, and Black-owned business this year.
  • Local Brands: 80% of Canadians respondents planned to shop from local brands and 67 percent intended to purchase from direct-to-consumer brands.
  • Changing Traditions: In addition to where we buy from, 45% of respondents said they would take the unique circumstances of this holiday season as a chance to update their traditions. (72% looked forward to having a slower-paced holiday season this year.)

How to shop local

If you see yourself in these results, you may be wondering how best to accomplish these well-intentioned goals. The starting place is simple – research.

In ordinary times, the best way to learn more about local business is to explore your town or neighbourhood. Independent stores make most of their sales off foot traffic. If public health restrictions permit, this is still the best way. Discovering a new gem in your area, and telling your friends, may help that business survive after the difficult lockdown. It may be easier to maintain social distance in small stores with limited capacity and street-front access, rather than in megastores and malls.

If you aren’t able to explore on foot, the internet can help.

Shopping local online

As CBC reports, a Toronto woman, Ali Haberstroh, was concerned with the struggles of local businesses as the pandemic has made many consumers go online to shop. Ms. Haberstroh shared a spreadsheet of local businesses on her Instagram account. Due to the immense popularity of her post, she launched a website, Not-Amazon.ca. The site lists local businesses in many categories in Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver and Calgary. It also showcases BIPOC-owned businesses.

Not Amazon is a great initiative, but it’s not the only game in town for made-in-Canada gifts this year:

  • Shop Local Brands: In addition to local businesses, local brands could use your support. For example, check out the Made in Canada Store. Fabrique 1840 (on the Simons website) also has a curated collection of Canadian-made goods. Similarly, The Bay has partnered with INLAND (a former, annual pop-up event) and hosts a microsite showcasing Canadian-designed clothing and accessories. Certain local galleries and museums are also a good option for locally-made gifts.
  • Gear Up: For those who love the outdoors – or those looking to start loving the outdoors now that indoor activities are off limits – Locally connects you with premium brands and identifies stores near you with stock. This is a great way to get the benefit of in-store expertise while supporting your local boutique athletic store.
  • Find Recommendations: For those feeling a little fatigue after ordering from the same three restaurants or walking around the same park all summer, try checking out some blogs about your area. Most cities have blogs tailored to providing “Best of” or “Top Ten” lists of everything that area has to offer. In Toronto, blogTO is a reliable source for top ten lists of every possible food you could be craving. It also covers new restaurants, stores organized by neighbourhood, and local events and initiatives to discover.
  • Explore Local Markets: Most towns have a local farmers’ or flea market. If you haven’t discovered it yet, a quick google search will likely do the trick. If you’re in a big city you may be lucky enough to have a number of markets to choose from, all of which providing small artisan creators a platform to show off their wares. Markets are also a great place to discover local providers or artists that you may find have online platforms you would never have found on your own.
  • Local Food Artisans: It’s not a bad year to send the gift of food or gifts for foodies. Canada has lots of great artisanal options, like this mushroom growing kit, these hot sauces, and this avocado sock – all produced in Canada. There are also countless producers of chocolate (Soul Chocolate and Chocosol) and other uniquely Canadian foods (Forbes Wild Foods and Newfoundland Salt Company) which make popular gifts.

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