What is the multiplier effect and why is buying local more important than ever?

Here at Gef, we love all things Manx.

That’s partially because our local products are excellent, but also because we know the economy needs our support more than ever at the moment.

So why is buying local so important right now? We asked the Head of Economic Affairs for the Economic Affairs Division, Adam Smith.


What is the local multiplier effect?

The multiplier effect is simply the value generated going back through a supply chain to get the end product to a customer. Depending on what the good or service is, that effect will be bigger (with a longer supply chain on the Island) or smaller (with a shorter supply chain on the Island).

Here are two examples of those chains:

A meal out at a restaurant

  • The restaurant pays its staff, who pay income tax and national insurance on their wages, but they also spend their salaries within the economy on their own goods and services.

  • The restaurant buys all their ingredients and drinks from wholesalers, which generates further economic activity, part of which is employing staff locally, who again pay income tax and national insurance on their wages and also spend their wages on various things on the Island. The wholesalers themselves use other services such as logistics companies to deliver products from the UK to them.

  • The restaurant may also contract with the likes of laundry or cleaners, who, again, employ staff and make use of other services throughout the economy.

Of course, that one meal is not enough to keep this cycle going by itself and whilst the multiplier effect is often expressed as £1 = £1.XX, a business obviously needs a certain level of turnover to be viable.

Buying UK goods online

  • A family orders an item online, the money goes off-island, where the employment is in the UK or further afield. Any income taxes and national insurance they pay will go to a different government and when they spend their wages, it’ll likely be within the UK.

  • But there will be some island multiplier effect due to the Post Office or courier firm who receive payment for delivering the item and the income tax/national insurance their employees pay.


BUT! The local multiplier still exists if people purchase goods from UK companies who are here, such as the high street retailers. It will be a lower effect than a company owned and operated on the Isle of Man, where the profits also stay on the Island, but those UK companies are still employing people here, using local services for deliveries and other services too.


Does £1 spend on the Isle of Man equal £1.83 in the Manx economy? 

That £1.83 was a very specific figure that the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) calculated relating to local food production and is not the multiplier for any other sector or the economy as a whole.

We have yet to be able to calculate this as it requires a vast amount of data and survey work from businesses on where and who they buy their inputs from, and whilst DEFA was able to do this through their close relationship with food producers, we have not yet been able to get information relating to the whole economy or wider sectors.


Is there a way to see if there’s been a boost to the multiplier effect, and if so have you seen this with people turning to local suppliers at the beginning of the pandemic?

As we have not yet been able to do the work to know what the multiplier effect is, but obviously some of the impacts of lockdown will have influenced it negatively more than positively.

For example, due to non-essential retail on the Island being closed, if people wanted to buy certain items they would have had to resort to online shopping, which will have reduced the local multiplier.

The move by restaurants to deliver food will have helped a little to maintain the multiplier, but it is unlikely to have maintained it at the level it was before the lockdown, because activity was much reduced and they will not have needed all of the same services as they did before (for example not serving alcohol).

However, there will have been some positive impacts generated by changes that were forced on various parts of the economy such as having to offer online/delivery services in order to continue to operate.

Also, in the short term, the restrictions around the borders may result in people spending more locally if they are not going on holiday and spending that money in the UK or further afield.


Do you think those people who have relied on shopping locally will continue to do so, despite life returning to normal on the island?

There will be a number of factors that influence this, such as:

  • If local retailers continue to adapt and use the online platforms, this extra convenience may encourage people to keep spending local.

  • How quickly the economy can recover, there is still a significant number of people registered as unemployed and the Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (MERA). If this means that they have a lower disposable income, then cost will be a major driving factor in purchasing decisions, which local retailers may or may not be able to compete with.

  • The level and type of any government stimulus that might be provided that helps to boost the economy, which may address the point above.

But people may return to the old normal in terms of shopping habits very quickly.


How can you boost spending within the local economy?

All parts of society have a role to play in this, government can and does stimulate demand through its spending power, such as a capital program which stimulates the construction industry and through other schemes that support businesses, particularly to support and create jobs, which drives a significant proportion of government income through income tax and national insurance.

The government is actively looking at how it can do more to support industries to keep employment going or to support individuals and society more generally.

The private sector can, of course, help to boost spending by ensuring they meet consumer demands, whether that be through the experience and customer service they provide, the option of delivery or online shopping or the range of products.

The public themselves are the ultimate decider of where they choose to spend their money, based on having the income to do so and the choices that are offered locally.


So there you have it – the official advice is to treat yourself to dinner out tonight, in the name of supporting the economy.

This article is sponsored by the Isle of Man Government.

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