The past few years have been tough on small businesses. Amidst all the challenges, there’s been one silver lining: the working-from-home trend. As more and more people embrace remote work, they’re seeking out new ways to support their local communities. And that’s good news for small businesses—especially those that offer unique, niche products and services.
“We’ve seen a big uptick in the number of people shopping small and supporting local businesses,” says Lucy Lyle, co-founder of Perch, a design-focused office product company. “I think people are realizing that when you buy from a small business, you’re not just supporting that business—you’re supporting the community as a whole.”
Lyle isn’t alone in this observation. A recent study by American Express found that 74% of consumers say they plan to shop small more often in the coming year. And it’s not just because they want to show their support for their favorite local businesses. People are also seeking out unique items that can’t be found at big box stores.
They’re looking for products with a personal touch—something that adds warmth and character to their homes. “People are really craving connection right now,” Lucy Lyle says. “And I think they’re turning to small businesses to find it.”
Here are three ways the working-from-home trend is benefiting small local businesses:
- Increased foot traffic. With more people working from home, there has been an uptick in foot traffic around local coffee shops and other businesses that cater to the needs of remote workers.
- Greater need for services. Working from home has created a greater need for services like dog walking, housecleaning, and grocery delivery. This has been a windfall for small businesses that provide these services.
- Local networking opportunities. Working from home can be isolating, so many remote workers are looking for opportunities to network with others in their community. This has led to increased business for local coffee shops, restaurants, and other gathering places.
The working-from-home trend is here to stay—and that’s good news for small local businesses. “With more people shopping online and looking for unique, locally sourced products, now is the time for small businesses to get creative with their marketing efforts and capitalize on this growing trend,” entrepreneur Lucy Lyle concludes.