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Americans Willing to Spend an Extra $2K This Year to Strengthen Their Main Street
[May 15, 2024]

Americans Willing to Spend an Extra $2K This Year to Strengthen Their Main Street


Americans want to see their Main Street thriving, and many are willing to do their part to keep local shops in business. In new research commissioned by Faire, the online marketplace serving hundreds of thousands of independent brands and retailers around the world, consumers reported that they are willing to spend nearly $2,000 more in 2024 if it means their favorite local shops will continue to thrive. The research uncovered that across the country:

  • Americans are personally willing to spend an extra $150 a month on average to make sure their local shops survive.
  • More than 65% of Americans visit their local Main Street at least a few times a month, and nearly 75% feel sad, worried, guilty, or angry when their local shops shut down.
  • Local shopping districts are so important that 85% say a candidate's support of small businesses will influence who they decide to vote for this election year.
  • Despite the impacts of inflation and the aftermath of the pandemic in recent years, nearly 80% of consumers report that their Main Street is stable or growing compared to 2019.

Faire's research reveals a consumer commitment to local economic growth, demonstrating that shopping local continues to be a priority across the country. This is promising news for the record-breaking new retail business openings in 2023, as they are likely to be met with enthusiastic consumer support this year. While small businesses still face several unique challenges, independent retailers have fought the headwinds by offering their customers new and creative experiences.

"We've always believed in the power of independent retail. These shop owners play an incredibly important role in what makes a city or town feel unique," said Faire co-founder and CEO, Max Rhodes. "Their superpowers of curation, agility, and community building have successfully met a growing consumer demand for connection and values-driven shopping. By leaning into these advantages, they continue to increase market share."

Consumer priorities have changed since 2020

Not only are consumers willing to spend an extra $150 per month to support local shops, they are willing to travel up to 30 minutes to visit them. This can be attributed to an overall shift in consumer priorities and values across the country. Nearly 75% of Americans stated that the pandemic made them appreciate their local shops more than they did before. Consumers located in suburban areas have become particularly passionate about contributing to their local economies with over 70% citing this contribution as the primary reason they choose to shop at local shops on their Main Street.

In a separate survey run by Faire to its customer base, independent retailers reported this growing consumer support is felt within their own shops. Nearly 85% stated they feel supported by their communities, and nearly 90% agreed that local shops receive more local support than big box stores in their neighborhoods. "Community is at the center of everything we do. I grew up in the very neighborhood where our shop is," said Chandler Tang, founder and owner of post.script., a San Francisco based gift sho. "My desire to contribute and give back to my community is authentic and clear, I'm at the store almost everyday. Customers enjoy coming in and seeing a familiar face, and they want to support that."



Millennials and Gen Z prefer to shop locally

As the largest growing consumer spending group, Gen Z's shopping behavior and preferences continue to influence cultural trends and the broader global economy. According to Faire's research, the smartphone generation prefers the shopping experience at independent retailers more than any other generation - so much so that they visit their local Main Street most often, with nearly 85% shopping there at least a few times a month and over a quarter shopping there a few times a week.


And while Gen Z and Millennials are divided on fashion, both generations are the most passionate about seeing their Main Streets thrive - with 100% of Gen Z and 96% of Millennials reporting they would take action to help their local businesses. These actions include:

  • 70% of Gen Z and 69% of Millennials are willing to shop locally more often.
  • 60% of Millennials and 59% of Gen Z are willing to encourage family and friends to support local businesses.
  • Nearly 55% of both generations are willing to do their holiday shopping there.
  • Both generations said their support of local will influence their vote this election year, with 90% of Gen Z and 86% of Millennials stating a candidate's plan on how to support small businesses is a priority when deciding who to vote for.

Curation and community drive independent retail's appeal

According to Faire's internal research, which surveyed independent retailers across the country, this small business group is capturing an increase in consumer demand by focusing on creative tactics that are uniquely powerful in a small retail setting. For example:

  • Nearly 90% of Faire retailers reported they are focused on personalized customer service and curated product selections.
  • A smaller but strong majority reported they are focused on community engagement, in-store events, and partnering with other local businesses.

"After years with limited opportunities to connect in person, small business-led experiences remind us why we love the neighborhoods we live in," said Calli Swofford, owner of Denver based home goods store, Miller Lane Mercantile. "At Miller Lane, we're focused on providing highly curated, intimate, and thoughtful in-store experiences more than ever because our community continues to show up for them time and time again. Whether it's trying a new art form, partaking in a self care demonstration, or creating something delicious, the camaraderie that forms on these occasions is a big part of what keeps our momentum going as an independent brick and mortar shop."

This tactile, social-oriented strategy is corroborated by retailer's purchase data - even with the majority of surveyed retailers offering omnichannel purchase options, 97% say in-store is still the most popular way customers make a purchase. Leaning into local connection and experiences not only drives purchase behavior but establishes loyalty to drive long-term relationships. This is reflected in how consumers shop in their stores:

  • Over 80% of surveyed retailers reported that customers come into their shops to socialize with their staff, ask for recommendations on products, or for help in picking out a gift.
  • Over 60% reported that when shopping customers request certain products or brands to be stocked, ask to place an item on hold when it comes back in stock, or ask for recommendations on other businesses to visit in the neighborhood.

The future of local economies

Small businesses have an outsized impact on the future of the American economy. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 2023, small businesses represented nearly 44% of America's GDP, which equates to trillions of dollars of economic activity each year. This success translates into a thriving workforce, as they employ nearly half of the country's labor pool, and empower minority communities, with nearly 45% owned by women, and 20% owned by racial minorities.

"Small businesses are the fabric of our communities and the backbone of our economy. Main Streets thrive when brick-and-mortar retailers lean into their smallness to create a close-knit, supportive atmosphere for their employees, their customers, and their community," said Tom Sullivan, Vice President of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Independent retail is a uniquely important sector of the small business community - their success means thriving local economies, cities, and neighborhoods. The small businesses on Main Streets around the country create experiences that offer cultural connection and meet the increasing demand of consumers today.

Faire survey methodology

The Faire Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 nationally representative US adults ages 18+, between March 5th and March 11th, 2024, using an email invitation and an online survey. The data has been weighted to ensure an accurate representation of nationally representative US adults ages 18+.

About Faire

Faire is the largest online wholesale marketplace used by independent retailers to discover, source, and sell unique products from around the corner and around the world. Faire's data-driven approach levels the playing field for independent retailers by offering net 60 payment terms and free returns on opening orders, eliminating inventory risk and providing access to capital-key offerings previously only available to the largest retail chains. For brands, the platform provides powerful sales, marketing, and analytics tools, so sellers can simplify their wholesale business and focus on making great products. To date, Faire has facilitated over 8M new connections between brands and retailers on the platform. For more information, visit www.faire.com.


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