Customers should do more to support small businesses

Dec. 17, 2023

One of the first aspects people notice about a town is its character, and usually, towns that are brimming with personality are filled with small businesses. 

Unfortunately, small businesses have a hard time succeeding in the presence of big-box retail stores, malls and online shopping. Therefore, local residents should spend more time supporting and shopping at small businesses.

A big-box retail store is a retailer that occupies a lot of space, offers an extensive variety of products and is usually part of a chain of stores. Often, small businesses struggle to compete with their convenience, low prices and variety of products.

According to an article published in 2008 in Econometrica, the journal of the Econometric Society, the retail corporation Walmart is among the big-box stores that has negatively impacted small businesses. The article asserts that Walmart’s expansion from the late 1980s to the late 1990s corresponded with a 40–50% decline in the number of small discount stores.

Small businesses also offer a level of interaction with customers that big-box retailers cannot achieve.

Similarly, due to the growth of Amazon between 2007-2017, over 65,000 small retailers fell, according to a study by the U.S. Economic Census, which is the official five-year measure of American businesses and the economy.

It is also difficult for small retailers selling on Amazon to grow their businesses because it is nearly impossible to build a relationship with customers, and changes to the search algorithms can lead to lower-than-expected sales, according to the data and resource company Jungle Scout.

For all of these reasons, it is especially important to support small businesses. 


Despite their size, small businesses have a huge impact on America’s economy. There are over 33 million small businesses in the United States, which employ over 61 million Americans, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Small businesses also offer a level of interaction with customers that big-box retailers cannot achieve. They provide customers with personalized shopping experiences and a chance to interact with the community.

According to a 2022 survey conducted by the personal finance company NerdWallet, 37% of Americans say they purchase from small businesses to receive a personalized shopping experience, and 30% are willing to pay more and wait longer at small businesses than at large retailers

Another reason to support small businesses is that they are more likely to give back to the community. According to the online publication Small Business Trends, 52% of small businesses donate to charity. In comparison, 63 out of 300 companies listed on the Fortune 500 list have responded that they typically give away 1% of their pretax profits to charity, according to a survey conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The impact of small businesses on the environment is also much better than large corporations, as they tend to use fewer resources than big businesses. 

According to Sustainable Connections, an organization supporting local businesses in Northwest Washington, small businesses use less fuel compared to larger businesses and move fewer shipments and resources around in trucks, trains and other modes of transportation.

Despite the encroachment of big-box retail stores and the dominance of online giants like Amazon, small businesses demonstrate resilience, and to give them a fighting chance, local residents should offer their support.

While online platforms like Amazon offer convenience, they sacrifice the personal connections and community interactions that define small businesses. Therefore, instead of going to big-box retailers this holiday season, people should consider shopping at their local small businesses. 

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