While big-box stores and the internet have changed the look and feel of many downtowns and main streets throughout the U.S., locally owned and operated businesses remain an essential part of many communities' identity and culture. The problem is, as competition and economic hardship grow, local small businesses often struggle to compete and remain profitable.
By choosing to support your favorite local businesses, you can do your part to help them stay open for years to come. Keep reading to learn more about how to support your local small business on any budget.
Why You Should Shop Local
The benefits of shopping locally go beyond the support of a few restaurants or stores. Keeping your dollars local helps stimulate your local economy and has a long list of benefits, including:
- Reducing environmental impact
- Letting local food systems flourish
- Keeping business decisions local
- Allowing owners to reinvest in the community
- Improving personalized customer care
- Employing more local workers
- Giving your community something unique
COVID-19's Economic Impact on Local Small Businesses
While a thriving network of locally owned businesses offers countless benefits, COVID-19 has put the squeeze on these businesses like never before. The long-term impact of COVID-19 is yet to be seen, but the current outlook is stark.
Nearly 30 million small business jobs are vulnerable because of the economic hardships caused by COVID-19. Worse yet, according to Yelp, almost 180,000 small businesses have closed during the pandemic, and 60% may never reopen.
7 Ways to Support Local Businesses During the Holidays
If you are concerned about the future of your favorite local haunts, this holiday season may be the perfect opportunity to show your support. You can start today with one of these seven ideas to support local small businesses.
1. Shop Early
If you suspect your local businesses are strapped for cash, you can help put some money in their pockets sooner rather than later by doing your holiday shopping early. In addition to helping with a cash injection, you will also get the first pick of goods and services that may sell out closer to Christmas as coronavirus continues to put a strain on the supply chain.
Shopping early may also help owners gauge what products will be popular this holiday season, allowing them to stock up and plan for future customer demands.
2. Skip Black Friday, Shop Small Business Saturday Instead
The Black Friday consumer shopping stampede had a bad reputation even before COVID made large crowds an extreme health risk. Instead, shop on Small Business Saturday.
First celebrated in 2010, Small Business Saturday is a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. It happens the last Saturday of November and encourages shoppers to support small local businesses and skip the lines at big-box stores. In 2019, Small Business Saturday helped generate a record $19.6 billion for independent restaurants and retailers across the U.S.
3. Give Gift Cards From Your Favorite Stores
Not sure what to buy but still want to support your favorite local stores? Consider stocking up on gift cards. These cards help provide immediate cash to the business and will give you the perfect gift for family members that are impossible to shop for. Many local companies offer their gift cards online, giving you the option to stay home while you shop.
4. Have Your Holiday Meals Catered
For many, the holidays include feeding family members and endless hours of cooking. This year, keep your crew fed and give yourself a much-deserved break by ordering out from your favorite local restaurant. Not only will it help support your local food scene, but it may also help your friends and family discover a new place to eat.
5. Spread Cheer With a Good Review
When it comes to small local businesses, showing your support does not always have to be a financial transaction. Leaving a glowing review on a business Yelp listing, Facebook page, or Google business page can make a huge difference.
Writing an honest review can help a local business gain new customers, as people increasingly make a buying decision based on online reviews. According to Trustpilot, almost 90% of consumers worldwide say they read reviews before buying a product.
6. Tell Your Family & Friends About That Local Hidden Gem
While online feedback is crucial in the internet age, word-of-mouth advertising is still the lifeblood of locally-owned small businesses. Simply sharing your favorites with friends and family this holiday season can be a huge help.
If you have a few places you've been keeping secret all these years, now is the time to risk it and share all your lesser-known spots that are unique to your block. If you don't, you may risk them shutting down altogether.
7. Get in the Holiday Spirit & Consider Donating
If you believe the old adage that giving is better than receiving, you may want to consider donating to a local nonprofit this holiday season. Whether you give a little or a lot, the truth is that some organizations will not be around next year without your support. Donating online or in-person may help keep the lights on and will no doubt make your holidays a little brighter, too.
Plan Ahead & Encourage Others to Maximize Your Impact
Chances are you have several independent businesses that you would like to support this holiday season. To maximize your impact, plan ahead. Consider the tips above, or come up with a plan all your own.
A great place to start is making a list of your favorite small businesses and how you'll buy something, share something, or review something for each. Share your progress on social media. Your efforts are sure to inspire others to do the same. Feel free to tag us in that post on LinkedIn or Instagram.
Learn More About Small Business
If you want to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners, you might be interested in our Small Business Spotlight series. In these Spotlights, we share the stories of some of our favorite small businesses from all over the country.
From bomb-sniffing hero dogs, to electric vehicle innovators, to ethically-sourced food adventurers, to a mother who started her own laundry service to help her daughter with allergies, small businesses are doing their part to make the world a better place. We are honored to do everything we can to help them thrive.