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How can you support local business?

4-minute read

Sam Bromley

21 January 2022

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Small businesses have had it tough recently, which is why we want to encourage people to support local business wherever possible.

Beyond just spending money with them though, it can be difficult to know what to do. Here are small ways to show your support, helping you build connections with small businesses in your area.

Buy local

The best way to support local business is by actually spending money with them. While this sounds obvious, it can be surprisingly difficult.

It’s not always easy to resist the convenience of online shopping and supermarkets, for example, and national (and international) chain stores dominate high streets all over the country.

The good news is that there are various initiatives that incentivise spending money within the community, aiming to make it easier. For example, American Express runs regular campaigns that give its cardholders cashback on purchases at independent businesses. They have a map of participating businesses that you can use all year round, not just during the campaign.

Here are tips to support local business:

  • for many, it’s unrealistic to stop using big supermarkets altogether, but are there items on your shopping list that are a local business’s speciality? From bakeries and butchers to wine shops, local businesses can often give you a better experience
  • similarly, if you add something to your online shopping basket at a big ecommerce website, it can be worth doing a quick search to see whether a local business also offers the product (a great example is looking for a local bookseller rather than automatically using Amazon)
  • that being said, lots of independent businesses also sell on big ecommerce websites too, especially if they don’t have their own dedicated online store – checking all the sellers that offer a product can help you choose one that’s independent and community-minded
  • can you buy most of your gifts from local businesses on occasions like birthdays and Christmas?

Man serving customer in organic shop

Become a member, or buy gift vouchers

Many local businesses offer membership or loyalty schemes to help customers support them.

Independent cinemas with a membership option might include free tickets and reduced booking fees as part of the deal, for instance, cancelling out the price of membership in the long run.

If your favourite local business doesn’t yet have a membership or loyalty scheme, why not encourage them to set one up?

Another way to help local businesses is by buying gift vouchers from them (or, again, encouraging them to start offering vouchers). Gift vouchers will boost a business’s cash flow in the short-term. By giving vouchers, you’ll also be promoting your favourite local businesses to your family and friends.

If you want to show support but don't want to make a purchase yet, you can always buy vouchers and cash them in later on. During coronavirus restrictions, many businesses created (and sold) memberships and vouchers to bring in some cash while they were forced to close.

Leave a review

In today’s digital-oriented world, many local businesses rely on customers being able to find them through an internet search. So if you have a favourite local business, or you’ve just had a nice experience at one, leave a Google review to big them up.

We’ve previously reported that 87 per cent of consumers read online reviews of local businesses, but many people might not think to leave a review unless they’ve had a really bad experience or an extremely positive one.

This means being proactive in your praise is a great way to support local business. As well as Google reviews, you could also write reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp or websites that fill a particular niche (like Checkatrade for local tradespeople).

Engage with local business on social media

As hinted above, lots of businesses now rely on online activity to promote their business. Therefore, social media has become very important. If you use it, one small way to show your support is by following local businesses, helping them grow their online audience.

Get involved by:

  • sharing posts and engaging in activity (including polls and competitions)
  • writing your own posts when you’ve had a nice experience or bought something that you love
  • leaving reviews of the business on their social media pages

Team up with local businesses

If you know a small business owner or run a small business yourself, why not encourage partnerships in your area so everyone can promote each other’s services? For example:

  • small bars and taprooms often don’t have the ability to serve food. This is a great opportunity for local independent takeaways, who can partner up and leave menus on tables. Customers then order directly to the venue
  • restaurants, pubs and other larger venues with an events space can open it up for local yoga teachers, personal trainers and other fitness professionals to run classes there
  • cafés, hair salons, and other shop-based local businesses can promote each other’s services by putting up posters and leaflets. These might even feature exclusive discounts and offers

How have you supported your favourite local businesses? Let us know in the comments below.

Photographs: Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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