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Consumers trend towards local small businesses

Small local retailers are the beneficiaries of a new consumer trend towards increasing support for locally owned and operated stores and producers.

Results from the American Express Future of Consumer Spending survey showed that Australians are looking for tangible, meaningful relationships with local retailers and deem face-to-face interaction essential to their shopping experience. Retailers in the food, skincare and homewares sectors were in prime position to benefit.

“There has been a shift in spending with more consumers searching for meaningfulness from their purchases,” said Melbourne-based social researcher, Jeff Gilling. “These consumers can more readily find what they are looking for in a local retailer.”

Half of respondents said they felt compelled to support their local economy and most actively do so, with almost half (48%) buying more local goods compared to a year ago.

Head of Small Business Services at American Express Jason Fryer said people are looking to increase their sense of community and belonging. “This provides a fantastic opportunity for local retailers and suppliers to show customers how much more rewarding face-to-face shopping can be. Australians may be thinking globally, but they are increasingly shopping locally.”

He said small businesses in particular are in a position to embrace this trend. “Small businesses are well placed to benefit from this approach as they are likely to be well connected with local community-minded consumers, allowing them to respond to their preferences.”

To tap into the locally-minded consumers, Fryer suggests:

  • Taking the time to get to know customers individually so that you can provide a truly personalised service;
  • Investigating what makes the local community tick and how the business can become part of community initiatives;
  • Identifying ways to engage with or give back to the community to foster relationships, such as getting involved in local markets or supporting a sports club;
  • Asking regular customers for feedback on what keeps them coming back to understand what’s working while also cementing the importance of their patronage; and
  • Developing personalised incentives to encourage customers to return, as well as recommend your business to others, such as offering a discounted service or product on a customer’s birthday.

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Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh is a journalist with more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business, education, travel, health, and project management. She has specialised in business since 2003.

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