Pandemic drives over half of consumers to shop local

Over half of consumers believe it is more important to shop with local businesses now than it was before the pandemic.

This is according to new global research released by Pollinate (which connects small businesses with banks and banking services), where over 4,500 consumers were surveyed across the UK, USA, Australia, and Brazil.

The report, Making Loyalty Work for Small Businesses, which was conducted in February and March 2021, sought to explore how local businesses could more effectively engage with consumers and encourage them to shop locally. It found that although consumers would like to support local businesses, 53 per cent of consumers want them to offer loyalty programs as an incentive to purchase.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in support for SMEs from consumers. The extent to which consumers in these different markets believe it is more important varies by country. Nearly half of UK shoppers (46 per cent) consider it more important to support local since the pandemic.

Millennials and Gen X are especially supportive of small businesses, with 49 and 47 per cent respectively citing shopping local as “very or extremely important”, and nearly half of all surveyed consumers having shopped at local businesses in the last 30 days.

Historically, offering loyalty schemes for small businesses has been difficult and expensive, requiring an investment in technology and staff training, while typically not delivering enough value to customers. In fact, while over half of consumers surveyed (53 per cent) want local businesses to offer loyalty programs, a quarter are not interested because they feel they would not get enough value out of such programs for them to be worthwhile. By not offering loyalty schemes, small businesses could be missing out on roughly 277 million shoppers.

Fiona Roach Canning, Co-Founder at Pollinate, said: “Small businesses are at the heart of communities and the economy. It’s incredibly important that they are continued to be supported – especially as they work to rebuild and regenerate through the aftermath of the recent pandemic. Having access to the same tools and assets large retailers have traditionally taken advantage of levels the playing field for small businesses. It will allow them to continue nurturing the personal relationships they are able to build that sets them apart in an up-to-date and digital way.