With much of the country beginning to reopen after months of lockdown due to COVID-19, many consumers are celebrating the return of small businesses. But some may not be able to open their doors, or at least not for long. As of mid-May, more than 100,000 small businesses across the U.S. had closed on a permanent basis, and while eased restrictions could drive more foot traffic to local establishments in the coming weeks, it may not be enough to compensate for the devastating financial effects of the past three months.
Not surprisingly, 44% of consumers are worried about the impact COVID-19 will have on local businesses, according to a recent survey by Principal. If you have similar concerns, here are a few things you can do to help ensure that small businesses in your neck of the woods don't end up shutting down.
1. Shop locally
It may be cheaper and more convenient to order household supplies, clothing, and other products online rather than visit the mom-and-pop stores in town. But if you feel safe entering those establishments, or those stores offer curbside pickup, then it pays to shop locally. It's estimated that when you support small businesses, for every $100 you spend, $68 stays in the community. When you give that same $100 to a national chain, only $43 stays in the community.
And make no mistake about it: Having small businesses around isn't just a matter of convenience. A thriving local economy can help home values hold steady or improve, whereas when too many local businesses close their doors, home values can decline. As such, it's in your best interest to pump some money into local businesses to ensure that they're able to stay open.
2. Endorse local establishments
Right now, U.S. unemployment levels are through the roof. If you're out of work, you may not have the funds to shop at local businesses, but you can still help them thrive by reviewing them online and promoting their services through channels like your social media page. It's a step that won't cost you a dime, but could put serious money back into a local shop's bank account.
3. Purchase gift cards
Many local businesses are desperate for money right now, and without it, they won't manage to keep their doors open much longer. And so while you may not need $400 worth of food from your local takeout place or $300 worth of books from your local bookstore, one thing you can do is buy some gift cards to use later on. That way, those establishments can maintain enough cash flow to stay afloat.
These are scary times for small businesses, but remember, when local establishments close, it's not just their owners who suffer; the effects can trickle down to the entire community. It pays to support small businesses as much as you can in the coming weeks and months to ensure that once the COVID-19 crisis finally comes to an end, those shops and stores will be there for you when you need them.