The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
- Over 90 percent of Americans interact with a small business in a typical week, and more than half visit at least three of them, according to a 2022 report. (Constant Contact)
- 57 percent of Americans say their main reason for shopping small is to keep money local. (Intuit Mint)
- 61 percent of holiday shoppers plan to shop on Small Business Saturday — even more than those who plan to participate in Black Friday shopping (56 percent). (Bankrate)
- Women started 49 percent of new businesses in the U.S. in 2021, up from 28 percent in 2019. (Gusto)
- Immigrants are 80 percent more likely to start businesses in the U.S. than native-born citizens. (American Economic Association)
While the pandemic may be mostly behind us, many U.S. small businesses remain in recovery mode after a rough couple years. Now, as recession concerns grow, local retailers could use increased support from their friends and neighbors.
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
One of the most compelling reasons to purchase from small businesses at their brick-and-mortar locations is the impact on the local economy. Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 25 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.
The data showing that shopping from local shops helps the environment is also strong. Approximately 90 percent of consumables are moved by sea, reports UK Research and Innovation, and the shipping industry is responsible for around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually. By purchasing things created and sold close to home, you can do your part to reduce the damage.
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 2019 study by Fiserv, almost 90 percent of consumers who are given a gift card from a small business they’ve never visited say they plan to return and shop there. Another Fiserv study found the average consumer spends $59 more than the original value of their gift card.
If you want to support your local eatery, but would like to have the food delivered, you may want to avoid third-party companies. A 2020 National Restaurant Association survey found that 66 percent of respondents ordered takeout or delivery for dinner within the past week. Yet 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 (they may even do curbside delivery so you don’t have to leave your car) 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.
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
According to Clutch, 88 percent of small businesses monitor their online reputation on a quarterly basis because they know how important it is to consumers. 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.
Continue to shop local virtually
Want to shop from a small business but do it from home? No problem. Chances are, they have a website designed just for that. Some 71 percent of small businesses now have their own websites, according to a 2021 Top Design Firms report. 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.
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.
Email marketing is beneficial for small businesses because it’s inexpensive and effective. According to a Litmus report, companies generate $36 for every $1 spent on email marketing, while Emarsys research revealed that 81 percent of small businesses depend on email marketing to attract customers.
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 consider 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.