Key takeaways

  • Shopping locally can have a significant impact on the local economy, with a higher percentage of money being recirculated within the community compared to shopping at chain stores.
  • Purchasing gift cards from small businesses not only supports them financially, but also has the potential to bring in new customers and increase revenue.
  • Leaving positive reviews and sharing them on social media can greatly benefit small businesses, as word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are highly trusted by consumers.
  • Supporting small businesses helps stimulate the local economy, promotes diversity and adds to the unique character of a neighborhood.

Locally owned businesses are the heart of our communities, and even though the pandemic may be in our rearview mirror, many U.S. small businesses remain in recovery mode after a rough few years. Now, as financial uncertainty and supply issues continue to complicate things, local retailers could use increased support from their friends and neighbors.

Shopping local isn’t just for the benefit of business owners — supporting small businesses has its perks for consumers, too. For one thing, goods you buy from a local business are typically more unique than what you’ll find at a big-box chain retailer. You can find well-made or handcrafted items in a local shop that you might not elsewhere. Shopping local can also make you feel more involved in your community, as you become a regular at local shops and restaurants and familiarize yourself with the people who work there.

And with the right rewards card, you can still maximize your credit card rewards shopping locally just like you would swiping your card at a major chain.

Here’s how you can give the many small businesses in the U.S. what they need while getting what you want from them, whether you’re shopping in the physical store or online.

Tips for supporting small businesses in-person

Shop locally

One of the most compelling reasons to purchase from small businesses at their brick-and-mortar locations is the impact on the local economy. In case you’re planning ahead, Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 30 this year — the day after Black Friday — and is a great time to show your support.

An American Independent Business Alliance analysis finds that for every $100 spent at a local independent business, $52.90 is recirculated locally. But for every $100 spent at chain stores, only $13.60 is recirculated locally.

Additionally, local businesses are invested in the wellbeing of their community. SCORE reports that small businesses donate 250 percent more than larger businesses to local nonprofits and community causes.

Buy gift cards

Another way you can support local small businesses is by buying gift cards when they offer them. The U.S. gift card market is huge, valued at $188.24 billion in 2023.

Gift cards are not only desirable as presents, but when you give them, the retailer gains new customers visiting their stores, thus increasing revenue. According to a 2024 study by Fiserv, almost 90 percent of consumers who are given a gift card from a small business sign up for loyalty rewards programs and become repeat customers.

Order take-out directly from local restaurants

If you want to support your local eatery, but would like to have the food delivered, you may want to avoid third-party companies. Third-party platforms like Doordash, UberEats and Postmates charge those businesses a commission, which can range from 6 percent to to 30 percent.

To help keep that money with the small business, you have a couple of options: pick up the food yourself or order directly with the restaurant if they have delivery service. Even if there is an extra charge, at least the money will be going to the delivery driver and it won’t cut into the business’s profits.

Plus, if you use one of the best credit cards for dining, you can get rewarded for ordering take-out while also giving money to local restaurants you love.

Use word-of-mouth

When you want to help promote a small business, get the word out by telling others how great it is. Consumers tend to trust personal reviews by people they know. According to the 2021 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising study, 88 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.

Tips for supporting small businesses online

Leave positive reviews

As consumers, we frequently turn to online reviews before choosing where we eat or shop. In a 2024 study, BrightLocal found 87 percent of consumers use Google to find reviews, 46 percent use Facebook and 48 percent use Yelp. BrightLocal also discovered that 76 percent of consumers “always” or “regularly” read online reviews when browsing for local businesses.

Earning positive reviews often translates into higher revenue for small businesses. For example, a Harvard Business School study found a one-star increase in Yelp rating can lead to a 5 percent to 9 percent increase in revenue.

Shop local, even online

Want to shop from a small business but do it from home? No problem. Chances are, they have a website designed just for that. Small businesses across the U.S. got on board with e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic, selling their products online, including webinars, classes and other services. To make it easier, the majority of small businesses also accept major credit cards — making it easier to earn rewards for shopping.

Increasingly, local businesses are finding their way in credit card issuer shopping portals, so you may even be able to boost your rewards.

Sign up for their email lists

To keep abreast of what your local retailers are selling, sign up for their email lists. Often you can be alerted to special deals or sales that are coming up (you may even be able to have the notifications come straight to your phone as texts). And when you know about new deals, you can also share the good news.

Share their social posts

Another way to get the message out is to share online reviews on social media platforms. Though you may not be speaking to people directly, users will know you’re in the neighborhood and that your recommendations are genuine. Moreover, you’ll be able to get the word out to hundreds, or even thousands, of potential customers very quickly.

A Visual Objects survey found that 25 percent of small businesses considered social media their most successful digital marketing tool in 2022, with over two-thirds of them making use of the platforms. Major social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin, are particularly effective places to post. Tag the business so they know you’re spreading the word. If you have a picture of the products or, better yet, of you shopping from the store, all the better.


  • You can support small businesses by sharing positive reviews via word-of-mouth and on online platforms.
  • To find small businesses, search social media platforms, read review websites and ask friends and community members for recommendations.
  • When you shop locally, more money stays in the community than if you shop at big box stores. Small businesses not only provide jobs for locals, but when they occupy space in a community, blight is reduced and other businesses can thrive.
  • Shopping from small businesses helps stimulate the local economy, promotes diversity and adds to a unique local flavor of your neighborhood.