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Will Post-Pandemic Consumers Remain Locally Loyal?

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 brought the toughest of times for everyone. Businesses struggled to adapt, no matter their size, industry, or past successes. But through difficulties, many communities saw a chance to take care of one another and to take care of the businesses that kept their people prosperous and their cities thriving.

As the pandemic fades, will we see a trend back into pre-pandemic preferences for big retailers, or will consumers continue to support local businesses as a result of the struggles they’ve seen firsthand?

How Companies Responded to Pandemic Safety Policies and Guidelines

Big-box retailers still found ways to accommodate consumers and offer contactless or crowdless shopping options in order to maintain business traffic. Because of these changes, consumers quickly shifted to becoming one-stop shoppers over the course of the pandemic. Minimizing the number of shopping locations offered the safest, most efficient option for people in need of essentials, and a lot of larger one-stop style retailers benefited from this adaptation.

Small businesses definitely struggled, but many communities took notice. A deeper sense of humanity struck many community members when they realized lockdowns affected their local businesses. Between local support and the development of creative, efficient ways for consumers to shop locally — online or in store — small businesses shifted their chances at long-term survival for the better.

Consumer Projection For the Remainder of 2021

As we continue to adjust toward a safer, “back to normal” lifestyle, consumers are likely to be more willing to make multiple stops for their shopping trips. However, it is possible that the efficiency of one-stop shopping will stick when it comes to consumers’ shopping routines — especially for grocery trips.

As vaccines continue to roll out and mask mandates continue to lighten, people’s public safety, comfort levels, and eagerness to get out are growing. This fact alone will have a significant impact on businesses, big and small. With the extreme and essential rise in online retail sales in 2020, many people are beginning to experience a bit of restlessness due to lockdown and many storefront closures over the last year and a half.

Certain industries may see greater growth than others: for example, entertainment may see a steady neutralization or decline with streaming services exploding over the pandemic; or the fitness industry, where some gym-goers may still be uncomfortable to be in close quarters with others. Other industries such as travel and apparel are expected to see a significant rise in demand as consumers are traveling and going out in social scenes more.

Our Thoughts

Consumers are ready to let loose; they are eager to break out of lockdown mode and go out to stores and shopping centers. They’re ready to spend their time, energy, and money on the products, services, and experiences they’ve missed out on over the last year and a half. Through immense challenges and safety concerns for themselves and their customers, many businesses have offered creative ways to reshape the way they market to consumers. And customers have come to realize the importance of their local businesses by witnessing the effects firsthand. Consumers take great pride in their support for hometown businesses, now more than ever. As consumers’ trends continue to shift, companies big and small are responding; and they’re seeing positive results as consumers grow more comfortable with in-person experiences again.

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