New Survey Predicts Dismal Outlook for Mom and Pop Shops for the Holidays

October 20, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson

A new survey released from Alignable, the country’s largest online referral network for small businesses, shows 45% of consumers shifted from shopping at local businesses to purchasing goods from national, online retailers when they were most concerned about COVID. The survey also showed that 68% of Americans have no plans to spend more money with local businesses for the rest of the year, spelling potential catastrophe for the holiday season. Nearly 6,000 consumers were surveyed for the poll. 

Alignable’s Consumer Confidence poll, conducted October 10-14, found that 52% of consumers said they do not expect to change their purchasing plans in time for the holidays. Additionally, another 16% of consumers said they plan to actually increase their spending with national retailers rather than shop locally. 

“Even in a good economy, many retailers count on Q4 sales to make up for the rest of the year,” said Alignable CEO and Co-Founder Eric Groves. “But COVID safety concerns still loom large for many consumers, which, sadly, could turn 2020’s holiday shopping season into the worst one in years for local retailers.” 

Long lines, adherence to CDC guidance and a lack of spending money are among the top concerns for consumers when it comes to shopping locally. 

This month’s polling data falls in line with previous data from Alignable showing an overall downgrade in the state of small business. 

According to a September trend tracker report from Alignable, 45% of small business owners predict that they will not make enough revenue to stay in business towards the end of year. 

On a more positive note, the research center found that 32% of consumers expect to shop more locally by the end of the year. 

“While that’s encouraging news, only 11% said they’d spend significantly more,” noted the research center’s report. 

To help small businesses stay afloat, Alignable asked consumers what could help them shift their spending from national retailers to local merchants. 

As the top answer, 34% of respondents said that knowing the money they spend locally will help their communities and local merchants recover could shift their spending habits. 

In response to this, Alignable said, “Unfortunately, many consumers don’t realize that the more money they spend with local merchants, the faster their community will recover, enhancing their quality of life.” 

Alignable went on to state that campaigns like #ShopLocal as well as the research center’s #MyMoneyStaysLocal are designed to help inform consumers about how important their spending power is in helping their local communities. 

The second most popular answer, among 16% of those surveyed, said that they’d shift their spending habits if local businesses mandate that customers adhere to mask wearing and social distancing while shopping. 

“Educating consumers about the economic benefits of shopping locally, and encouraging even more merchants to follow stringent safety guidelines are two important steps to combat the trends we’re seeing,” commented Groves. 

“But more has to happen and soon. That’s why we’re calling on everyone to urge Congress to break the stimulus stalemate and provide more money to businesses most in need, especially small, independent retailers,” added Groves. 

“Time’s running out for many of them,” he concluded. 

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