Forty two per cent of UK consumers shop local, showing loyalty to three or more small businesses in their local area rather than spending online or with large corporates, according to new research from digital lender Everline.
Northern Irish consumers are the most loyal to their local SMEs, with one third using more than four small businesses regularly. Those in London and the North East also show loyalty to at least four local SMEs (32% each). Consumers in the East Midlands and South East of England are the least likely to shop local, as a quarter of respondents (24%) in those areas do not use any local SMEs regularly.
The research, launched during Local Business Week, also identified several ways in which small companies could attract even greater levels of loyalty. Half of consumers (51%) said that more competitive pricing would make them more likely to use, or continue to use, a small business. A quarter (25%) cited promotions as a way of securing or increasing their custom, while a further 25% suggested that they would like to see a better range of quality products available. Additionally, almost a fifth (19%) suggested that better trained staff or better customer service would encourage them to shop locally.
Consumers’ willingness to support local businesses demonstrates that they are an important part of local life, and must be supported by the Government and other institutions. Currently, most small business owners think that banks are not interested in lending to them, and the challenges of maintaining their cash flow and raising the funds to grow their business are well documented. More than a quarter say that a lack of access to cash is restricting business growth.
Russell Gould, managing director at Everline, said: “This research confirms the importance of small businesses to local communities, and highlights that they deserve support not just from consumers, but from the Government, the wider corporate landscape and the finance industry as well. It’s important to enable SMEs to grow their businesses and encourage loyalty, whether that is through hiring skilled people, investing in promotional materials or expanding into new business areas.
“Flexible finance providers can help make the process easier by removing some of the barriers to borrowing, so small business owners should research all their options to ensure that they don’t miss out on the opportunity to expand and develop just because they don’t have access to the right funding.”
Everline.com said it provides a fast, flexible and convenient source of funding to small business owners looking to expand their business, manage working capital, or fill a cash gap. Businesses choose exactly how much they want to borrow and for how long (up to a maximum of 52 weeks), with no fees for repaying early and all costs and weekly repayments presented upfront.