More people are supporting small businesses

Millions of shoppers have pledged to vote with their feet and continue to support small businesses – after turning their backs on larger chains.

We asked 2,000 people for their views on small businesses and shopping, and the vast majority (80 per cent) told us that they’ve chosen to buy from independent businesses instead of larger chains during lockdown. A third of those have chosen to buy from a local bakery, while 20 per cent have purchased something from an e-commerce store, such as an online craft shop or book outlet. Independent greengrocers, coffee shops and florists were also popular among those we polled.

We also found that 54 per cent of those polled believe that they’ve supported small companies more than ever recently, and 9 in 10 are planning to continue doing so more often into the future. What’s more, 54 per cent have been introduced to a new independent enterprise over the past few months, showing that support for SMEs has been growing steadily throughout lockdown.

Playing an important role in society

It’s no surprise then that almost two-thirds admitted the lockdown has made them realise how important independent businesses are to society, with 76 per cent wanting to see more of them in their local area, and 96% agreeing that SMEs are integral to the economy and society.

Lisa Jacobs, Funding Circle’s UK Managing Director said: “It’s been fantastic to see how communities have come together to support small businesses at a time when they need it most. From choosing to buy a loaf of bread at your local bakery to visiting an independent florist for fresh flowers – these small actions make a big difference to small businesses.” 

“This shift in the way people shop will only be positive for the recovery of small businesses over this coming period and it’s promising to see that this trend is likely to continue into the future.”

We were pleased to see that 46 per cent of those polled were encouraged to buy from small businesses because of the unique products they offer, while 42 per cent said that high-quality goods entice them to shop with independent businesses. Half of those we asked simply like knowing that they’re supporting their local community, and 37 per cent enjoy the personal touch. As a result of this, shopping with small businesses has made people feel more positive (40 per cent), supportive (50 per cent) and happy (28 per cent).

Those we polled had purchased a variety of products from SMEs in recent months. Some of the most popular items included foods, home décor and gardening products, whilst a sixth of those we spoke to had also bought books, and a quarter shopped for birthday presents. Some of those we polled had even gone further than just spending money with small businesses, with 31 per cent recommending them to a friend, 19 per cent leaving an online review and 23 per cent liking SMEs’ social media posts.

Two-fifths of those we spoke to said they prefer independent brands, in a stark contrast to the mere 9 per cent that feels this way about large chains. Of those we polled who would rather shop with small businesses, 55 per cent preferred to spend their money with them than a big company, and 57 per cent liked to know they were making a contribution towards supporting the local economy. 46 per cent said it was a nicer experience shopping with an SME than with a large chain, while a further 39 per cent felt they knew where their money was going when buying from a small business. 34 per cent of those we asked even said they were willing to spend a little more to buy from an independent retailer.

All in all, our research shows a real commitment from the British public to SMEs, and we are looking forward to seeing if this continues to influence how people shop as the economy continues to re-open.

Katie Deacon