Shopping Local During COVID and Impact of Black Lives Matter

4A’s Research, in partnership with Researchscape, an agile market research consultancy, surveyed over 1,000 consumers to find out how the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement impact shopping behaviors.

COVID-19 does influence where consumers shop, with the majority (27%) indicating some impact. Very significant impact ranked a very close second (26%) and only 13% said COVID-19 has had no impact at all.

Participant parameters: 18+, 1,041 participants. Conducted in partnership with Researchscape from September 24-28, 2020.

When asked whether the Black Lives Matter movement impacts where people shop, 54% of respondents said it has no impact at all, while 46% said the movement does have an impact on where they shop.

Participant parameters: 18+, 1,041 participants. Conducted in partnership with Researchscape from September 24-28, 2020.

Both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement brought a focus on community and the importance of voting with your dollar. When crafting this survey, we hypothesized that with this renewed sense of community, more people would shop at local, small, and minority-owned businesses.

The results show this is not the case; superstores and online retailers, like Amazon, are overwhelmingly the top retailers where people are purchasing. Small business and local businesses rated in the bottom three.

Participant parameters: 18+, 1,041 participants. Conducted in partnership with Researchscape from September 24-28, 2020.

Price is the biggest reason consumers are heading to larger retailers. 22% of consumers said price is why they don’t shop at local and small businesses. With unemployment growing and Americans struggling to pay rent and for food, getting the best price for essentials is an imperative. Many respondents stated that they have cut back on shopping for non-essentials, are only buying essentials, and are focusing on saving money.

Safety and health concerns due to COVID-19 are also factors why consumers are more concerned when shopping in local stores. When shopping in-person, consumers feel safer in more spacious retailers that are not prone to crowding. They also trust the cleanliness and sanitary practices of national chains. Mask and social distancing policies, as well as whether retailers are following CDC recommendations is another concern respondents voiced about choosing where to shop.

Availability of online shopping is another factor stopping consumers from going to local businesses. Many respondents have minimized their interactions with people due to the coronavirus, hence moving their shopping online. National chains with the resources to run successful ecommerce sites have the advantage here. Delivery cost and lack of curbside pickup were also named as reasons to not shop small.

Minority-owned businesses
A small portion of survey participants (9%) vocalized that shopping at minority-owned businesses is a priority for them and they want to show their support. Black Lives Matter was named as an influence that caused consumers to change their shopping behaviors.

Consumer lack of awareness of minority-owned businesses in their local area is a key takeaway. Many respondents said either that there are no minority-owned businesses in their area or that they didn’t know of any. Many also stated they didn’t know who owned local and small businesses. The desire to support minority-owned business is there, but people seem not to have taken the next step to learn about such businesses in their area.

Focus on Community, Sanitation Procedures, and Convenience
Positive findings did come out of this survey. We learned why consumers like to shop at local, small, and minority-owned businesses.

Top factors include:

  • Support my community and neighborhood
  • High quality, local, and unique product selection
  • Customer service
  • Availability of products
  • Location/convenience.

The survey also revealed ways these types of businesses can compete with superstores and online retailers:

  • Minority-owned business certification (see below for some resources)
  • Make the hours of operation clear, including whether the business is still open and if senior hours are available
  • Availability of curbside pickup and/or delivery
  • Implementation of an ecommerce site
  • Stronger messaging to let the community know online shopping is available
  • Cleaning/sanitation procedures
  • Sales/discounts
  • Ways the stores are giving back to the community and/or a spotlight of employees.

By implementing the above procedures and highlighting them in messaging, local businesses can continue to exceed in reaching new and existing consumers.

Additional Resources:


Researchscape is a member of AAP, which provides exclusive discounts for 4A’s members. Learn more about Researchscape and its custom survey service here.