Survey: Consumers Stand Behind Small Businesses

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Main Street is holding its own against superstores and shopping centers.

According to the 2017 Cox Business Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses, 92 percent of consumers said in an average week they visit small businesses. Furthermore, 27 percent of the more than 1,800 consumers surveyed indicated that during an average week, they patronized small to medium-size businesses twice in a seven-day period. Because small businesses support local communities and provide convenient amenities, consumers are shying away from mega centers, including malls, and shopping locally.

Local support was the top reason why consumers shopped small. Sixty-seven percent of consumers said they shopped at small businesses because they benefited their towns’ economy. More than half of consumers (63 percent) also said small businesses were the most convenient option, meanwhile 50 percent of consumers said small businesses provided better customer service. Only 14 percent of consumers indicated that “more competitive pricing” was their main reason for supporting small businesses.

“Made in America” was also important to consumers that shopped locally. Seventy percent of consumers said they would spend more money at a small business if they exclusively sold U.S.-manufactured products. Eighty-five percent of respondents said that shopping at small businesses made them feel like they were supporting the U.S. economy. Despite this mindset, only 24 percent of consumers said they frequently check if products at small businesses are labeled “Made in America.”

When visiting small businesses, consumers said they desire different in-store experiences. While email remains their preferred form of communication (53 percent), 45 percent of consumers said they would like their local companies to host more in-person events. Considering most consumers travel with tech devices, including smartphones, 43 percent said small businesses should offer free and reliable WiFi when they visit.

Even though America remains politically divided, those polled said they would still support a local business owner if they voted differently than them. Eighty-four percent of consumers said candidate choice wouldn’t impact their small business shopping, while 35 percent said they could stop supporting a local business if the business owner was vocal on social media about their political leanings.

“These survey findings show that Americans are overwhelmingly united in their support of small businesses regardless of the so-called things that divide us,” said Cox Business EVP Steve Rowley. “Most consumers want to do their part in supporting the American workforce and economy and understand their collective patronage of these establishments is a key component of building stronger communities.”


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