Campaign groups and small business representatives have called on consumers to steer clear of this week’s Amazon Prime extravagance and support small retailers instead.On Tuesday and Wednesday, the tech giant will host its annual Prime Day event, with thousands of tempting offers, many of them at half price.
However, activists are asking consumers to take into account the plight of local businesses that were already struggling to compete with Amazon before the lockdown.
Ethical Consumer, which has long campaigned to persuade shoppers to boycott Amazon on the grounds that it aggressively avoids paying taxes, urged online shoppers to stop, take a break, and “think about the cost. for vital utilities before you click to pay ”.
Meanwhile, the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has called on consumers to consider small retailers who need their support “more than ever” if their local main street does not become a closed wasteland.
Launched in 2015, Amazon Prime Day started out as a flash sale of mostly tech products and normally takes place in July.
It grew rapidly and last year’s Prime Day was the biggest business event in the company’s history, as it sold over 100,000 laptops, 200,000 TVs and over a million toys.
To take advantage of the offers, customers must be Prime members, which costs £ 79 per year.
Tim Hunt, director of Ethical Consumer, said there are a host of reasons consumers should take their businesses elsewhere.
“Besides tax evasion, Amazon has a dubious track record on many issues, including labor rights and the environment. We urge consumers to consider whether they really need to make this purchase on Amazon Prime Day, and how they can use their money in a way that benefits society and the environment.
“There are a number of bigger, more ethical brands that pay a fairer tax rate, including Richer Sounds and Lush cosmetics (both of which have been awarded the Fair Tax Mark) we are calling on consumers who need to shop looking for more ethical companies like these.
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of Bira, said nearly a quarter of independent retailers had not reopened after the lockdown, with many more under great stress.
“Despite the allure of the Internet, nothing can match the positive experience of buying from a local independent retailer knowing that the money spent in a local store will in turn be spent in the local economy. Independent retailers are part of the community and need the support of buyers more than ever, ”he said.
Meryl Halls, who heads the Booksellers Association, said the impact of the pandemic on main streets had been “catastrophic” for some and presented an ongoing challenge for all retailers, including bookstores.
“It is essential that consumers buy locally to ensure the future of the Christmas retail industry,” she said. “There are now even more ways to shop at local bookstores: Bookstores have developed websites and adapted to offer orders by phone, email and online, with door-to-door delivery often an option. We actively encourage book lovers to start Christmas shopping early to spread demand. Shopping locally and early will help find jobs and support a thriving community.
During the lockdown, it emerged that Amazon buyers had spent nearly £ 9,000 per second on its products and services.
An Amazon spokesperson said this year’s Prime Day would see its “biggest small business promotion ever.”
“We are investing heavily in creating jobs and infrastructure across the UK – over £ 23 billion since 2010. The UK has now become one of Amazon’s largest global hubs for talent and this year we announced plans to create 10,000 new jobs in the country by the end of 2020, bringing our total workforce to over 40,000. This continued investment has contributed to a total tax contribution of $ 1.1 billion. pounds sterling in 2019 – 293 million pounds in direct taxes and 854 million pounds in indirect taxes. “
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