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Small businesses are a huge part of the American economy. They make up 99% of all businesses in the nation. But even in good times, small businesses have around a 50% long-term survival rate, making economic uncertainty and a global pandemic extremely worrisome for many small-business owners. Find out how you can support small businesses in your community this holiday season to help make your local economy a bit merrier and brighter.

How Are Small Businesses Struggling in 2020 and Beyond?

COVID-19 has hit the bottom line hard for businesses and consumers alike. Businesses of all sizes were overwhelmed by the increased consumer demands for shipping, delivery, and curbside service, and many were forced to close for weeks or even months in 2020. Many are looking to the holidays to make up for lost revenue earlier in the year.

Bluehost conducted a State of Small Business Marketing in August 2020 to find out small-business owners’ outlook for the future. While more than 70% of business owners said they were optimistic about the future, they do have concerns:

  • 44% are worried about finding new customers through 2021
  • 30% are worried about long-term economic impacts from the pandemic
  • 21% are worried about lower-than-normal sales or consumer demand

At the same time, many consumers have experienced negative impacts to their personal budgets during COVID due to lost jobs and reduced salaries. As a result, some might be planning to scale back on total holiday spending, and others might be turning to different shopping habits to help keep themselves and their families safe.

How Can I Help a Small Business?

Whether you want to shop online to stay safe during potential outbreaks or you’re reducing how much you spend in 2020 to make up for financial shortfalls, you can still support small businesses. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

  1. If you’re going to spend, choose to shop local instead of buying with big-box retailers or huge e-commerce platforms. Not sure if there’s a small business offering what you need? In the next section, you can get tips for finding local companies. Skip ahead >>
  2. Check local small business websites to see if there are options for shopping online. Many offer free shipping opportunities or curbside pickup, so you can get what you need without entering stores.
  3. Call ahead to ask about the best times to shop. Going out during slow times can limit your contact with people and can help you get the best possible service from local businesses.
  4. Spread your shopping out. Starting as early as possible and buying a little at a time can take the sting out of holiday costs while letting you enjoy the festivities and support small businesses. According to the National Retail Foundation, around 74% of businesses expect shoppers to spread out their spending in 2020.
  5. Plan ahead to take advantage of Small Business Saturday deals. Though stores might spread out the deals this year, Small Business Saturday is still occurring. This is the day after Black Friday, and many small businesses offer specific deals on that day.

Other ways to support local small businesses include dining out, using local bakeries and caterers if you need help with holiday feasts, and buying tickets for nearby festivities and events if it is safe to do so. While many are still worried about COVID-19 risks, businesses have had time to prepare new ways of serving customers and holding events in a safe manner.

How Do I Find Local Businesses?

Word of mouth—simply asking your friends and family—can be a great way to find small businesses to support. But if you have a limited social circle, you just moved to an area, or you’re trying to expand your options, here are other ways you can find stores and businesses to support during the holidays.

  1. Use the Small Business Saturday site. There’s an entire site dedicated to Small Business Saturday, which includes a map for locating small businesses near you. They’ve also created a map of 100 Black-owned businesses to support around the country.
  2. Search Yelp. You can search Yelp for specific types of businesses in your area and easily see whether people are having good experiences with each company.
  3. Check social media. Many small businesses have pages on Facebook or Instagram. You may be able to browse some products right on social or connect with a business to understand what services it offers. Social is also often a good way to find out the most current details on COVID-19 hours, restrictions, or safety protocols each business is observing.
  4. Begin with the search engines. Google especially can be helpful because it offers map results and access to consumer reviews a click or tap away from the immediate results page.
  5. Visit your local chamber of commerce, digitally or in person. Your chamber of commerce may provide a list of reputable local businesses, and you can also call or speak to someone in person about businesses specific to your needs.
  6. Search Etsy, Redbubble, and Society6. Many small businesses and independent artists sell their goods on sites like Etsy and Redbubble.
  7. Support small businesses via Amazon. The company’s Support Small initiative highlights small companies you can shop with and provides local directories. You can also buy hundreds of products from small businesses on Amazon and take advantage of Prime and free shipping offers.

If you want to support small businesses with your holiday shopping while also benefiting yourself or your family, consider getting a rewards credit card. You can earn points or cash back on spending and use those benefits to fund more holiday fun or future travel or spending.

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