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Buying Local Statistics for 2021: Survey Finds 70% of Americans Shop Small

Amazon and other leading ecommerce giants have changed the shopping experience in recent years. Easy one-click buys and same-day delivery are what 80 percent of shoppers now look for when shopping. This ease earned Amazon $96.15 billion in yearly revenue by the end of September 2020 — all while the COVID-19 pandemic continued. Stay-at-home orders throughout the year and the need to support small businesses grew as large ecommerce sites took the spotlight. We set out to understand buying local statistics to see who’s shopping local, and why and how they’re doing so.

Small businesses were affected greatly in 2020. Due to COVID-19, many shoppers opted for online orders and same-day delivery — things most small businesses couldn’t match. As a result, small business sales decreased, and up to 50 percent of shops closed in some countries.

For the local shops still standing, the overwhelming support of consumers definitely helped. Just over 82 percent of consumers say they’d spend more to support local businesses after the pandemic. To figure out where holiday budgets were spent this season, we went straight to the source.

We surveyed 1,500 Americans and uncovered:

  • 70 percent of consumers are supporting local businesses by shopping online only, or a mix of online and in-store.
  • 57 percent of Americans say their main reason for shopping small is to keep money local.
  • Additionally, 38 percent of shoppers say they want to support their community and local creators.
  • 28 percent of shoppers buy local for better service and 19 percent to help local non-profits.
  • Millennials and Gen X consumers are most likely to support local businesses by only shopping online (45 percent).
  • People who choose to shop in-store at small businesses are mostly over the age of 45 (56 percent).

Additional Buying Local Statistics:

  • One in five consumers were focused on shopping small businesses in the winter of 2020.
  • In 2019, shoppers spending at small businesses instead of department stores increased by 3 million.
  • $12.9 billion was spent during Small Business Saturday in 2020, down 65 percent from 2019 ($20 billion).
  • One third of shoppers in 2020 were buying more gift cards from small businesses.
  • For every $100 spent at small businesses, $48 is put back into the local economy.
  • Small business online sales increased by 18 percent from 2018 to 2019.
  • 77 percent of shoppers admit they’d like to see face masks worn when shopping at local shops.
  • 20 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are working on building ecommerce storefronts as well.

How Consumers Are Shopping Small

55% of Americans Shopped In-Store, Despite the Pandemic

Even with social distancing recommendations and stay-at-home orders, over half of shoppers are still making purchases in-store to support local businesses. According to the UNCTAD, these purchases included personal care items, digital entertainment, food, fashion, and healthcare items. Shoppers that chose online checkouts over in-person experiences were mostly made by millennials and gen Xers.

Even with the overwhelming support of local shoppers, small businesses struggled in 2020. The U.S. Census showed that educational services, healthcare, arts, entertainment, food services, and other public administrations were faced with hardships months after the pandemic struck. Without the ability to comfortably eat out, attend school in-person, or enjoy indoor gatherings, it’s more difficult to show up for industries that require in-person attendance.

Why People Shop Small

Majority of Consumers Shop Small to Keep Money Local

Our survey showed 57 percent of consumers say they shop local to keep money close to home, and 38 percent of consumers support local businesses to feel connected with their community. According to Fundera, 108 million shoppers spent over $12.9 billion on 2020’s Small Business Saturday (compared to $20 billion in 2019).

And, regardless of 2020’s events, 28 percent of people think the economy is in “good” health. However, 75 percent of businesses reported that COVID-19 had a negative effect on their business.

Why Shop Local? 5 Benefits to Supporting Small Businesses

Why Shop Local? 5 Benefits to Supporting Small Businesses

The “why” behind shopping local can vary between consumers. Some shoppers may want to keep money local; others may be looking for a connection to their community. To see the advantages of supporting local business owners, keep reading, or jump to our family-friendly downloadable printables below.

1. Purchases Help Your Community

Money you spend locally goes directly to your community. Every dollar you spend is invested into the business and those who run it. In other words, you’re helping locals keep their jobs, create more jobs, and invest in other local community initiatives. To take your mindful money practices to the next level, consider supporting local shops the next time you need beauty products, groceries, or a new wardrobe.

2. Local Shops May Be More Sustainable

When small businesses work together with other small businesses, there can be opportunities to cut down on packaging, overall waste, and travel emissions. For example, local grocery stores may carry produce from local farms, which cuts down on transportation costs, travel emissions, and packaging used to transport each product. As a result, your money invested locally could help the earth and your wallet.

3. Customer Experience Is the Priority

Big box stores have more employees, customers, and issues to deal with every day — while local shop owners may not. Small business owners usually have fewer customers, making those that shop with them more valuable. Everyone that comes into the store becomes their top priority. If you have questions or concerns about products or services, you’ll likely be able to get in touch with the owner faster than you would a big box customer service representative.

4. Fresher (and More Unique) Products and Produce

You can find a variety of items at local stores you may not find anywhere else. When it comes to grocery shopping, you’ll likely be able to find locally sourced produce at smaller stores. You get to enjoy eating fresher produce while supporting multiple small businesses. For instance, your weekly groceries may be fresher from your local farmers market than a department store.

5. You Put a Face to the Creator

In most cases, small store owners spend the most time face-to-face with their customers. You’re more likely to interact with the owner than the CEO of an established company. This means you’ll have a better chance of connecting with your community and you’ll know exactly who you’re supporting.

To ensure you stick to your budget, download and fill out our shopping checklist. Write out each item you may need at your local small businesses. As you shop, go down the list and check off every item as you buy.

Download Printables

Shopping locally can have more benefits than shopping online or at department stores. Money invested into small businesses supports your community. To give your money greater meaning than budgeting and spending on necessities, invest it locally. Supporting local businesses can help your community during tough times, and give you a better shopping experience along the way.

This study consisted of one survey question conducted using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,500 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey ran during December 2020.

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