COVID-19 has been battering the U.S. economy since cases starting multiplying domestically in March. Fast forward three months, and we have a full-blown recession on our hands. But while many people are bearing the brunt of the pandemic from a financial standpoint, small businesses may be reeling the most.

It's estimated that over 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors since March. That equates to 2% of small businesses gone, just like that. Among restaurants, that percentage climbs to 3%. And these are the numbers as of May.

It's too soon to tell how many local establishments will ultimately meet their demise in the course of the pandemic, but one thing's for sure: If you want to keep small businesses around in your neck of the woods, you'll need to go out of your way to support them. And here's why you should.

Smiling man handing bag of bread to woman

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Small businesses pump more money back into local economies

It's true that small businesses serve as a financial lifeline for the people who own them, but they have a greater impact than that -- they also keep money local. When you shop at a small business, it's estimated that for every $100 you spend, $68 of it gets to stay within the community, whether by those businesses hiring locals or getting supplies from nearby establishments. By contrast, for every $100 you spend at a major retailer or national chain, just $43 of it stays in the community.

2. Small businesses give you more choices as a consumer

Small businesses give consumers more options when it comes to getting the goods and services they need. When your only local choice is a big-box store, you may not get the quality you're looking for when you shop for clothing, shoes, or other necessities. Similarly, you may not enjoy the customer service smaller establishments are known for.

3. Small businesses add value to neighborhoods

When your neighborhood has a thriving downtown with shops and stores, home values tend to go up. On the flip side, if businesses start to close in short order and new establishments don't come in to replace them, home values can quickly decline.

Support small businesses as best as you can

A lot of people are hurting financially right now, and if you're one of them, you may not have the means to support the businesses in your part of town. But if you have the money to frequent those businesses, now's the time to show up -- especially as the economy reopens and small businesses start to exhaust the relief loans they may have received earlier on in the pandemic.

Order food from a local cafe rather than a chain restaurant. Buy school supplies and books from a local store instead of procuring them online. And if you can't support small businesses financially, support them via rave reviews on social media.

Small businesses are said to be the backbone of the U.S. economy, but also, they're essential to your local economy. Do your best to support these establishments, because having them around is beneficial on more levels than one.