New survey finds that Americans are willing to spend thousands more to shop locally

SAN FRANCISCO — Americans want to see their main street thriving, and many are willing to do their part to keep local shops in business, according to new research commissioned by online wholesale marketplace Faire.

In total, consumers reported that they are willing to spend nearly $2,000 more in 2024 if it means their favorite local shops will continue to thrive. More specifically, Faire’s research uncovered that across the country:

  • Americans are personally willing to spend an extra $150 a month on average to make sure their local shops survive.
  • More than 65% of Americans visit their local main street at least a few times a month, and nearly 75% feel sad, worried, guilty or angry when their local shops shut down.
  • Local shopping districts are so important to consumers that 85% say a candidate’s support of small businesses will influence who they decide to vote for this election year.
  • Despite the impacts of inflation and the aftermath of the pandemic in recent years, nearly 80% of consumers report that their main street is stable or growing compared with 2019.

Faire’s research reveals promising news for the record-breaking number of new retail business openings in 2023.

Shifting consumer priorities

Looking more closely at the numbers, Faire’s research found that not only are consumers willing to spend an extra $150 per month to support local shops, they are also willing to travel up to 30 minutes to visit them. This can be attributed to an overall shift in consumer priorities and values across the country.

Nearly 75% of Americans stated that the pandemic made them appreciate their local shops more than they did before. Consumers located in suburban areas have become particularly passionate about contributing to their local economies, with more than 70% citing this contribution as the primary reason they choose to shop locally on their main street.

In a separate survey run by Faire to its customer base, independent retailers reported this growing consumer support is being felt within their shops already. Nearly 85% of retailers stated they feel supported by their communities, and nearly 90% agreed that local shops receive more local support than big box stores in their neighborhoods.

Generational shopping trend

According to Faire’s latest research, as the largest growing consumer spending group, Gen Z’s shopping behavior and preferences continue to influence cultural trends and the broader global economy. Faire’s research found that the generation prefers the shopping experience at independent retailers more than any other generation, so much so that they visit their local main street most often, with nearly 85% shopping there at least a few times a month and more than 25% shopping there a few times a week.

And while Gen Z and Millennials are divided on topics such as fashion, both groups are passionate about seeing their local shops thrive, with 100% of Gen Z and 96% of Millennials reporting they would take action to help their local businesses. These actions include the following:

  • 70% of Gen Z and 69% of Millennials are willing to shop locally more often.
  • 60% of Millennials and 59% of Gen Z are willing to encourage family and friends to support local businesses.
  • Nearly 55% of both generations are willing to do their holiday shopping there.
  • Both generations said their support of local will influence their vote this election year, with 90% of Gen Z and 86% of Millennials stating a candidate’s plan on how to support small businesses as a priority when deciding how to vote.

Driving independent retail’s appeal

Per Faire’s internal research, which surveyed independent retailers across the country, small businesses are capturing growing consumer demand by focusing on creative tactics, including:

  • Nearly 90% of Faire retailers reported that they are focused on personalized customer service and curated product selections.
  • A smaller majority reported they are focused on community engagement, in-store events and partnering with other local businesses.

The success of social-oriented strategies were also corroborated by retailer’s purchase data, even with the majority of surveyed retailers offering omnichannel purchase options, with 97% saying in-store is still the most popular way customers make a purchase. The importance of human connection is also reflected in how consumers shop in their stores:

  • More than 80% of surveyed retailers reported that customers come into their shops to socialize with their staff, ask for recommendations on products or for help in picking out a gift.
  • More than 60% reported that when shopping customers request certain products or brands to be stocked, ask to place an item on hold when it comes back in stock or ask for recommendations on other businesses to visit in the neighborhood.

“We’ve always believed in the power of independent retail,” said Max Rhodes, Faire’s co-founder and CEO. “These shop owners play an incredibly important role in what makes a city or town feel unique. Their superpowers of curation, agility and community building have successfully met a growing consumer demand for connection and values-driven shopping. By leaning into these advantages, they continue to increase market share.”

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