Why shop local in 2021?
2020 was a difficult year for so many of us, and particularly for small businesses. The outbreak of COVID-19 brought lockdowns, business closures, and unstable markets that left many small business owners wondering what their business might look like in a month, six months, or a year.
One of the biggest takeaways of 2020 has been that we absolutely cannot understate the importance of supporting small businesses. As 2021 finds its stride, shopping local and supporting locally-owned restaurants and businesses is more vital than ever.
Why should we shop local?
We all know the joy that comes with finding a hidden gem in a family-run shop or a mouthwatering dish in a hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurant that we can’t wait to tell our friends about. So, why shop local? What many people don’t know, though, is that small businesses are actually integral to the strength of our local communities and economies. Studies find that locally owned businesses are linked to higher income growth and lower levels of poverty in the community compared to big-box retailers. In fact, counties with higher percentages of employment in locally-based, small businesses have stronger local economies.
On top of that, smaller, locally-owned businesses often have a stronger sense of care, are more likely to give back to their community, and offer more interesting and locally-sourced products and produce than chains and outlets.
What impact have 2020 and COVID-19 had on small businesses?
The impact of COVID-19 on the small businesses and restaurants that we know and love cannot be overstated. A huge number have had to close doors, limit capacity, or completely change their setup— and a great deal of uncertainty has followed into 2021.
All is not lost, though. As the world navigates these changing times, many businesses are adapting and reopening in new ways. Restaurants are bouncing back, though bigger chain restaurants are bouncing back more quickly, particularly in the fast-food sector. As restaurants and businesses find their feet again, they’re changing their ways and adapting by increasing takeout and third-party delivery systems, among other things.
How can I bolster my local business’ success in 2021?
If you own a local business you know how challenging the last twelve months have been. There’s no one size fits all answer for succeeding in these ever-changing times, though adapting and finding ways for customers to keep supporting you as the “new normal” shifts is key. A couple of things that can help are:
- Embracing new technologies and systems – Delivery apps and takeout are huge right now, and having an easy way for people to order online so that they have the option to stay in the safety of their homes is crucial.
- Adapting your marketing strategy – People are seeking human connection more than ever, and having a marketing strategy that shows your values and has empathy in mind is important. On top of that, customer word-of-mouth marketing is on the rise as people are turning to the people that they know and trust for recommendations. People seek referrals from friends and family above all else, and having a way for customers to spread the good word to those they care about can be a game-changer for customer acquisition and retention right now. Not only that, but it gives you a way to reward your customers’ loyalty and passion for your business. Consider implementing a referral marketing or restaurant incentive program as part of your small business’ marketing strategy.
If this feels new and/or daunting just know that’s completely understandable and this last year has seen more change than many of us can remember. You’re not alone, and we’d love to help!
What happens now?
We all have locally owned businesses in our community that we know and love, and now is the time to show our support for them. Continuing to support local restaurants and shop with small businesses is crucial to keep our sense of community and our local flair. Now you can share “why shop local” with your friends and family and keep your local community thriving.
If you own a local business and are looking for ways to get more customers in your restaurant or business’ doors or to increase customer retention, we’re here to help your business succeed. Find out more about our referral program software here.