There may be a glimmer of hope for small businesses that have had to temporarily shut because of the coronavirus pandemic. New research suggests some consumers will go out of their way in the coming months to support local companies to try to help revive their communities.
A survey by digital advertising platform ZypMedia shed light on consumer shopping preferences as states open up after months of stay-at-home orders and quarantines. While consumers may have avoided brick-and-mortar stores in favor of virtual storefronts like Amazon at the beginning of the outbreak, a majority are now looking to take their business closer to home.
More than half of respondents (53%) said they are more likely to do their shopping with local businesses than national retailers as the pandemic runs its course. While some respondents like the convenience of shopping locally, the top two reasons consumers gave was their desire to support the local community (84%) and the desire to support the local economy (54%).
Loyalty runs deep
The survey shows that some consumers have felt a sense of loyalty to local businesses throughout the pandemic. Those who tend to do more than half of their shopping at local businesses reported that they continued to do so during the crisis. Among those who tend to spend less than 25% with local businesses, spending at these establishments increased — on average — by 15% during the COVID-19 crisis.
Local businesses can take steps to increase their customer base even more during this time, the survey found. While 52% said discounts would entice them to shop with local businesses, more respondents were focused on safety and convenience:
57% said free delivery would entice them to shop with local businesses
56% said contactless delivery or curbside pickup would make them more willing to shop
Consumers are also looking at how businesses are stepping up to help their communities get through the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, 53% of respondents said they were more likely to shop with local businesses that were making an effort to support the local community.
Lure of national retailers
Local businesses are not for everybody. Some respondents said they conduct more of their shopping with national retailers. They gave a number of reasons for doing so:
52% said national retailers were more convenient
49% said they liked the variety found with national retailers
39% said prices were better with national retailers
35% said they wanted specific brands or products carried by national retailers
Some consumers shopping with national retailers may shift back to local businesses once they open, as 37% of respondents said they were only shopping with national retailers because the local businesses are closed. An earlier MomentFeed survey found that many consumers are looking forward to getting back to their pre-pandemic routines.
Also, some local businesses may find themselves with new customers for life as a result of the pandemic. Of those respondents who said they were more likely to buy from local businesses during the pandemic, 68% said they will continue shopping at those businesses after it ends.
Methodology: San Francisco-based ZypMedia surveyed 559 consumers between ages 18 and 65 in May.