Yes, you read that right; #The ShopLocal trend is taking over the world one small retail business at a time!
Nearly every aspect of life had experienced a dramatic shift when the COVID19 pandemic broke out, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of retail. Now, if you think this pandemic is slowing down chances for your small business to succeed, read on. Because this might be the year you get your big break.
The drastic change in customers’ shopping habits is becoming more evident. They are shifting away from lavish lifestyles and pricey products and commodities in hopes of stomping down daily expenditures.
Consumers have emerged from the lengthy lockdown still wary of risk, reluctant to travel long distances, and encounter large crowds or risky safety measures. And many feel a sense of loyalty to local shops and are grateful that they’re still serving the local community.
Many small businesses have fought their way through to survive. People appreciate it and value them. More than ever before, support for independent small businesses has soared as they showed their value in their unique offering, first-rate shopping experience, and customer convenience.
Why are Consumers Choosing to #ShopLocal?
Whether it’s buying medicines at a family-owned drugstore or hiring an independent accountant for your taxes, supporting local businesses helps strengthen the region’s labor force.
Many small businesses also tend to offer a warm atmosphere that feels like home compared to bigger chains.
Aside from small businesses' contribution to regional employment, The 3/50 Project states that for every $100 spent at locally owned stores, $68 goes straight back to the community, compared to just $43 when shopping at a large chain. This income is exhibited in the form of taxes, payroll, and other expenses.
Still in doubt? Here are some figures to back this up.
- People are starting to tip local business’ workers more - According to a May CNBC.com story, 68% of people tipped more than they usually do between April 9 to April 14 of 2020.
- Consumers prefer local market shopping for daily produce over groceries and supermarkets – Beginning in April, small-scale food producers began to see an uptick in sales, according to Reuters. With restaurants closed and some consumers too nervous to wade the tight grocery store aisles, people began to shop locally for produce.
- Boost sales in online platforms – Savvy small businesses that invested in online shopping sites pre-COVID-19 are reaping their rewards now. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce cites Gary’s Wine and Marketplace, a small four-shop chain, and their mobile app, which has exceeded expectations during this time. Before the pandemic, it had 2,000 users. By the second week of April, 15,000 people were using it—a 750% increase.
- Shoppers don’t want to see their favorite local businesses fail, so they intentionally support them – And that’s true now more than ever. The National Retail Federation reports that 49% of consumers “have made a purchase specifically to support local small businesses during the pandemic.”
Fear and Shopping
The biggest concern about shopping during the pandemic has been fear of contracting the virus, which still has no cure.
More and more shoppers would instead purchase their daily commodities online and have them delivered to their homes, all for the sake of observing social distancing. On the other hand, more people opt to get their groceries and essentials in local retail shops for proximity and convenience, instead of buying them in big malls or far away places.
Here are some of the ways local businesses have been doing to observe safety protocols during the pandemic:
- Limited numbers of shoppers
- Reduced store hours
- Employee handwashing regulations
- Hand sanitizing stations
- Contactless payment systems
The Psychology of Spending During the Pandemic
Online sales have skyrocketed because of the changes in people's shopping behavior and how people decide to spend their money. But this does not only go for the big players in the industry. Small local businesses have seen increased e-commerce revenue as consumers avoid in-person contact and follow stay-at-home orders. Even the so-called “save and stockpile” the consumer has to eat has driven online groceries.
New Essentials That Drive Shift in Shopping Behavior
What consumers deem essential in life has also been changed drastically by the pandemic. Things like blowup pools, which aren’t often bought even during hot periods, have seen record growth in 2020 as parents find ways to entertain their children at home during the quarantine.
At the same time, products as diverse as electronics, recreation boats, and even flour (think of all that sourdough bread you made) have seen a significant boom as people try to keep themselves occupied at home or in socially isolated situations.
Local Business Owners’ Time to Shine
Let’s face it; the pandemic has brought a sense of compassion across the globe as people, and the government try their best to cope with the mental and emotional toll of the pandemic. Consumers see their neighborhood businesses struggle, and they want to help out. Shifting money from big-box stores to small local businesses is becoming not only popular but a trend.
Research has shown that shoppers have a renewed desire to support local businesses more. According to a Nextdoor survey, 72% of members believe they will frequent local enterprises more often after this crisis.
People want to support local businesses, including purchasing their favorite craft beer at the local brewery or apparel at a local boutique. Anyhow, shoppers are willing to go out of their way to do so via local online shopping, curbside pickup, or delivery.
Small, local businesses have found unique strategies to survive, and they have found ways to continue to meet consumers.
Here are ways local small businesses can benefit from the #ShopLocal trend:
Communicate with Your Local, Loyal Customers
First things first, a solid and efficient communication bridge is vital. One helpful strategy is to update your hours and safety precautions across all platforms. Make sure your information is updated everywhere, and this includes:
- Physical storefront
- Community Business Page
- Google My Business
- Social media
Get Discovered and Market Yourselves Within Your Neighborhood
Get yourself familiar with an online community or neighborhood hub where locals share information, offer recommendations, and keep each other updated. With a Business Page on these community online platforms, you have access to local shoppers who live nearby your business. This provides a great venue and resources for small businesses during the pandemic.
Offer Curbside Pickup and Online Delivery
To meet social distancing protocols and provide consumers peace of mind, it is essential to offer curbside pickup and online delivery services. This service doesn’t only apply to restaurants. Retailers of all forms can creatively work with customers both online and in-person to meet their needs.
Partner With Other Local Businesses
Discover other companies that would pair well with your product or service offering. Are you a coffee shop business? Try partnering with the local bakery. What will go well with a brand new outfit from your fashion retail store? Perhaps the good footwear shop in the neighborhood. Anyway, it is good to find other local retailers and create promotional content together.
This helps keep the income going within the community and shows your neighborhood that you care for and are willing to invest in it.
#ShopLocal is More Than Just a Trend
“Shop Local” is more than just a trend; it’s a lifestyle that more and more people are choosing to take today to support the regional economy. It’s a symbol of solidarity amid a global pandemic that has dramatically affected the consumer marketplace.
Local shopping has become one of the most significant unexpected positive outcomes of the pandemic. With customers unwilling to travel to larger shopping centers, many smaller shopping areas saw a boost in sales. This desire to shop locally will continue into 2021, especially as many people continue to work from home.
Savvy local shops and small independent retailers geared up and ready to serve these conscious consumers. They would do well to focus on the benefit to the community and the world of shopping local.
Edited by Chooli