The United States is home to over 32.5 million small businesses. These millions of businesses employ about 46.8% of the private workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Small businesses impact our everyday lives more than we may realize. They contribute to our local economies, employ our friends and neighbors, and often give back to our communities, but we'll explore all of this later. Right now, here's what you need to know:
Small businesses in your community are counting on your support this holiday season.
In this post, we’ll share some of the reasons why shopping local is important and how you can support small (with or without using your wallet).
Table of Contents
- Why ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Shop Small®’ Are Important
- How to Support Local Businesses
- Small Business Saturday
When Life Gives You Lemons…
Have you ever opened a lemonade stand?
If so, you may remember the steps involved with opening your stand. First, you had to gather a small group of friends or convince your siblings to help. Step two was to make eye-catching signs to get the attention of your neighbors and people passing by. Then, you and your team had to agree on a price per cup of lemonade. Once the lemonade was made and cups were set out, you started dreaming of the new bicycle you would buy with the profits.
When your first customer arrived, how did you feel? Perhaps excited, relieved, or even surprised that someone wanted to support your little stand. Maybe you struck up a conversation with them, asked how they heard about you, or encouraged them to, “Please, tell your friends!” If you’ve ever had a summer day like this, you’ve tasted a tiny sip of what it is like to be a small business owner.
Like a small business owner, when you ran that lemonade stand your top priority was to be profitable. After all, you sacrificed precious summer days to try and make some money for that new bike. But, big competition from companies like Minute Maid® and Simply Juices®, was everywhere and more convenient for your potential customers.
You had big dreams and high hopes for that stand, similar to a small business owner. However, unlike a small business owner, your childhood lemonade stand was probably not your livelihood.
At the end of the day, this is why it's so important to support small businesses. When you make a purchase at a small business, you could be helping that business owner feed their family or pay the bills.
Let's explore some other reasons why it's important to shop small.
Why ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Shop Small®’ Are Important
Especially this time of year, the phrases ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Shop Small’ are everywhere. You see them in store windows, on social media, and even in ads on television. But, why is it important to ‘Shop Small’ and ‘Shop Local’? Here are five reasons:
Small businesses have a big impact on their local economies. When you shop at your local small business instead of a big retailer, your dollars are directly invested back into your own community. Plus, supporting small businesses right now can actually help our economy recover from the pandemic.In an August 2021 press release, Major Clark, Acting Chief Counsel of the U.S. Small Business Administration stated, “Each of the 32.5 million small businesses in the United States are important engines of economic growth that can help speed economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- Small businesses hire almost half of the country’s workforce. As we mentioned earlier, small businesses employ about 46.8% of the private workforce in the United States. The current top three industries for small business employment include health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, and construction.
- Small businesses affect the social framework of a community. Areas with multiple brick-and-mortar shops and businesses help to preserve the character and charm of their neighborhood. Deliberately focusing on supporting these “Main Street” areas helps promote its appeal and can attract more shoppers to the community.
- Small businesses offer intimate shopping experiences. Large retailers may offer immersive shopping experiences, but they often can’t provide the intimate care and personalized attention that a small business owner can. Plus, small businesses often offer hand-crafted, custom, and unique goods that you won't find with a mainstream retailer.
- Small businesses give back. Small business owners often support their communities by sponsoring sports teams, contributing to school fundraisers, volunteering with charities, and more. When you support your local small businesses, you're supporting your entire community!
Keep in mind, your local small business owners are also your neighbors.
They could be the parent or grandparent of your child’s classmate. They might be the person you see walking their dog on your street every morning. Or maybe they’re the person you always come across at the grocery store on Saturdays.
It’s important to support the small businesses in your area simply because they’re owned and operated by people in your community. When we give to them, they give back to us in ways we might not even realize.
Next, we’ll share some things you can do to support small businesses in your area this year, with or without using your wallet.
How to Support Local Businesses (With or Without Your Wallet)
As we approach the holiday season, many people are forming lists and planning their shopping outings. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend an average of $997.73 on gifts and holiday items this year. Of those consumers surveyed, 24% plan to shop specifically at a local or small business.
Many shoppers like you recognize the challenges small businesses are facing in the wake of COVID-19 and are doing their best to help out. Don’t stop now!
The holiday shopping season is paramount for many small businesses, especially retail stores. Typically, holiday shoppers contribute to about 25-30% of the average retailer’s annual profits. Those dollars can absolutely make or break a business for the year.
Here are seven ways you can help the small businesses in your area hit their holiday goals, with or without contributing your own dollars:
- Purchase gift cards. If your local small businesses offer gift cards, now is the time to stock up. Gift cards make great stocking stuffers and gifts, but you can also buy one with your own future purchases in mind. This is one of the best ways to support a small business today for a purchase you will make in the future.
- Shop early. If you can, start your holiday shopping early this year. Many people will be shopping online more than usual, which means stores and delivery services will be overwhelmed with orders. Shopping early can help ease this burden for small businesses working hard to fulfill and deliver orders on time.
- Be patient. A little patience always goes a long way. Tension and stress levels are high for many small businesses as they cope with supply chain issues, shipping delays, staff cuts, reduced operating hours, and many other unexpected changes.
Practicing patience and kindness when an item is out of stock or your order is delayed are small ways to show businesses you care.
- Leave reviews. Taking some time out of your day to leave reviews for your favorite local businesses can make a big difference. You can leave reviews for the business itself on Google or dive deeper and review some of your favorite products.
According to Bright Local, 94% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business and 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Your positive comments cost nothing and can help encourage others to support the business.
- Seek unique gifts. If you’re stumped trying to find the perfect gift for someone, turn to your small business shop owners for help. Many small shops offer hand-crafted, unique items that you can’t find anywhere else. Just strolling through a shop may inspire you.
If you’re still stumped, talk to the owner! Often small business owners are also the artists or know the artists that create these handmade items. Perhaps you’ll find they can make something custom, just for you.
- Change up your shopping plan. Most holiday shoppers make their list of gifts first, figure out which store is going to sell those items, and then hit the road. If your primary goal is to shop local this year, try flipping the order.
Start with a list of local businesses you want to support, and then figure out which person on your list would enjoy a gift from those stores. The shopping may take a bit more time, but your dollars will be invested right back into your community.
- Reach out. It’s no secret that your favorite small businesses need your help right now. Even if you can’t support them with your purchases, it never hurts to reach out and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
You never know what they might need. It could be as simple as someone coming and shoveling snow off their front sidewalk or a thoughtful person baking cookies for the employees who are working extra hours to complete orders. Your kindness can go a long way.
For more tips on how to help small businesses even after the holidays, click here.
Small Business Saturday® is November 27th
What better day to commit to supporting the small businesses in your neighborhood than Small Business Saturday?
This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 27th. Shop local on this day to take advantage of special holiday discounts, deals, and more. Need help finding a small business to support? Click here to use the American Express Shop Small® Map and find small shops, restaurants, and vendors near you!
We’d like to wish you and the small businesses you support the very best this holiday season. Visit our blog again soon for more articles and resources like these.