And reading into it, it makes perfect sense, on very many levels. Commercially, socially, ethically, environmentally, I can see no case against it.
Buy British was campaigned back in the 70s and early 80s, an attempt to counter the influx of better made ‘foreign’ goods coming from overseas, much of it technology, the wave of new appliances from music centres to video recorders and dishwashers and digital watches.
The beginnings of the ‘Buy British’ movement of 2021 is, from what I can see, common sense as much as anything, and a combination of reasons make it so.
The conflated Brexit plus Covid impact on business is the final utterly convincing reason that we should, where and when possible, buy British. The reasons are more than patriotism or national loyalty, it supports companies, and that supports and creates jobs, which is critical for moving forward.
Buying British creates an incentive for small start-up businesses to serve the home market, which is vastly easier than attempting to sell anything anywhere else. If you’ve tried buying something from Europe recently, you may have discovered it’s more complicated, more expensive, and more hassle than buying locally.
From what I understand, trying to sell into Europe is equally fraught. There’s important ethical reasons, the carbon footprint of anything made or grown or reared in the UK is likely to be substantially smaller than the overseas equivalent. And self sufficiency is, in principle, a good thing, surely the UK market for fresh fish is large enough to keep our trawlermen happy?
Am I being optimistic to think that a benefit of Brexit might be that we rationalise our markets somewhat, why are we importing fish, and exporting fish? Can’t we just eat our own fish? I’m being simplistic, but it’s a fair point made.
So I had a look around the internet to see what websites exist to buy British from, there has to be marketplaces where you can buy anything, as long as it’s British, although it’s got me thinking, what does that mean?
The company selling it is British? The goods are made in Britain? What about the components of the goods? I’m curious, let’s explore the reborn idea of Buy British, a sensible contraction from the globalised supply chains that see us purchasing everything from the other side of the planet. Now’s a good time to bring it all a little closer to home.
I connect with Michael Oszmann, founder of BuyBritain.com, a decent looking website that offers a wide selection of goods from British companies who list their products for free and pay a commission of around 10 per cent on sales generated.
There’s around 140 companies listed on the site so far, he tells me the factors influencing growth include the pandemic driving more sales online, the desire to support local businesses to support the economic recovery, and Brexit driving an increased interest in local products. As well as an increased consumer awareness on sustainability and employment practices there’s also environmental concerns about long-distance shipping.
Buying locally seems to just make sense. Exploring MadeInBritiain.org, the trade body responsible for the official Made In Britain kitemark and certification, they’re also experiencing an upsurge, seeing an 80 per cent increase in Made In Britain accreditation requests since April 2020, and they’re experiencing three times faster growth than in previous years.
That’s a strong indicator of a meaningful change in direction, and now that we have left the EU the UK Government itself is able to openly and directly encourage people to buy British.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see that campaign rolling out in the near future. Flags ’n’ all.