In today's retail environment we are seeing people turning to online shopping and large chain stores more often than ever before. According to Forrester Research Inc., online sales in the United States are expected to reach $523 billion in the next five years, up 56% from 2015. With more people participating in these shopping trends, where does that leave small businesses and why should you choose to shop local?
1. Instant Gratification
Online retailers require shipping, which can take anywhere between two days to two weeks—compare this to shopping at brick and mortar stores and taking your desired products home with you that day. According to American Independent Business Association, 68 percent of shoppers say brick and mortar stores are the easiest and most convenient way to shop.
2. Better Customer Service
Small business owners and workers are able to provide more assistance to customer while forming a personal relationship with them. "Because they know their customers, they can easily adjust their inventories to include the goods and services local people want to buy," explains Sue Lynn Sasser, PhD, professor of economics at the University of Central Oklahoma. "They'll often go the extra mile to help you and to ensure you're a satisfied customer," Sasser says. You're also more likely to be able to bargain prices face to face than trying to haggle with some online boutique owner via Etsy messages.
3. Try It Before You Buy It
The ability of getting to try something on, see a product in person, or even try a sample before you commit to the purchase helps you save your money by only buying items you know you will be satisfied with. Online shopping often involves a bit of a guessing game when it comes to sizing, colors, and other important factors. According to the American Independent Business Association, 69 percent of shoppers find in-store purchases the most reliable.
4. Create Local Jobs
Shop local to keep your community's economy afloat—after all, don't you want to benefit in more way than one from the money you're spending? According to the U.S. Small Business Association, small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s. More jobs in your neighborhood means more people, more businesses, and more tax dollars for you and your neighbors to enjoy.
5. Keep Money Local
Shopping local goes beyond your one purchase, think of it more as a domino effect. The money spent within a community tends to stay within the community longer than buying at a chain business. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, around 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses are recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.
6. Environmental Impact is Reduced
Small businesses tend to be located in a cluster, typically in a walkable, downtown area. This closeness reduces packaging and time and air pollutants that occur when driving from chain store to chain store.
7. Community Character
According to Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust, "When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace." Local businesses tend to serve a wide range of narrow markets, this makes each one more of a destination point rather than a stop along the way. These unique stops play a large role in the character (and tourism) of a particular community
8. Support Non-Profits
"Studies show that nonprofits receive 250 percent more support from small businesses than large ones," explains Sasser. This support can also be seen to influence the well being of the community and its people.