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Survey finds small shift in spending habits could bring up to 16,000 jobs, $3 billion in revenue for Michigan's economy

Michigan Retailers Association believes making one of every ten purchases locally rather than with an out of state company would massively boost the economy.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan Retailers Association has updated their Buy Nearby program estimates for 2022, saying that a ten percent change to spending habits would bring billions back to the state's economy.

Their survey found that Michiganders spend around $30.3 billion in "out-of-state ecommerce." The survey goes on to say if one out of every ten of those purchases was made with a locally owned Michigan business, it would add 16,000 jobs, $660 million in wages, and $2.2 billion in gross economic output. 

"Stop at that mom and pop retailer on Main Street. Take a risk and make that purchase," said Andrea Bitely, Vice President of Marketing with the Michigan Retailers association. "We're talking about big numbers here, but we're talking about little chips for all of us that can make that difference."

The results of the survey are data driven, but hypothetical. The shift in habits would take the participation of millions of people, but local business owners believe it can happen.

Jeff Joyce is the owner of Mieras Family Shoes in Grand Rapids, a business that's survived and grown over the past 100 years because people trusted their local store to give great service and products.

"It just reminds people that if they can just shift a little bit of their spending to local stores, it helps the local store provide higher levels of service, more inventory that they cant find online," Joyce said. "The money in your pocket is a vote of confidence for the business that you’re dealing with."

While we interviewed Joyce at his store, they were running multiple sales, and every customer we saw was being helped by an employee. Joyce says that's a huge advantage to shopping local, and a rewarding part of making the switch, even for one or two purchases a month.

"For us it would mean more inventory, more workers, higher wages, and that would be seen directly by the customer with their selection and higher level of service," Joyce said.

"I do believe it’s possible, but it’s going to take some time. If everybody does their ten percent we can get there," said Attah Obande with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. "I’m going to go buy my jewelry from a local small business for like $5 as opposed to going to Meijer or Amazon and ordering something from there."

Obande said many purchases are made in the spur of the moment online. He suggested instead of searching for the product you want through an online retailer like Amazon, search for a store in your area that sells that product. 

"A lot of people think that if I’m going to buy local I have to shift all of my buying habits," he said. "It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, it just takes the intentionality."

If you're looking to shift your spending habits, the Michigan Retailers Association has a map that can help, and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce has a directory of local businesses as well. 

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