While most consumers are shopping small at the same rate or more this year, rising prices and decreased availability of goods are driving some shoppers away from Main Street according to the 2022 Cox Business Consumer Sentiment Survey. Of the 11% of respondents that shopped less frequently or stopped shopping small this year, top factors impacting their patronage include expensive shipping costs, limited inventory, and price increases related to inflation.
“The challenges are seemingly never-ending for small business owners as they continue to face rising operating costs, limited product availability, and an ongoing labor shortage,” said Perley McBride, executive vice president of Cox Business. “Nonetheless, it’s heartening to see that a majority of consumers are sticking behind their favorite shops and are making it a priority to support small and local this year.”
While pricing and availability are top of mind, technology hasn’t taken a backseat for today’s shoppers. Adoption of mobile payments is up from previous years as just over half of respondents said that contactless payment options would improve the in-store shopping experience with small businesses – compared to just 21% in 2019. Other top experience-driving solutions include real-time personalized discounts, app-based store navigation, and AI-enabled payments like Amazon Go.
However, not all forward-looking tech is catching fire with consumers. Even with the many recent headlines about big brands taking on extended reality, only one-fifth of shoppers have interacted with a retailer in the metaverse. Although, of those that have, 75% would interact more with SMBs if they had a virtual presence there. Millennials are most interested in virtual shopping, outpacing their Gen Z counterparts.
“Today’s shoppers increasingly expect their in-store trips to be comparable to their online experiences. To meet evolving expectations, small- and medium-sized brands need to strengthen their on-site tech stack and ensure their infrastructure is ready for the challenge,” McBride said. “Partnering with SMBs to power new experiences is foundational to our work here at Cox and we look forward to seeing what more this year has in store for Main Street.”