How Gen Z Can Support Local Businesses During the Holidays

Working in a small business - cardboard manufactory.
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When it comes to shopping local, research shows Gen Z is leading the way. According to recent ActiveCampaign data, 69% of Gen Z convey negative sentiments toward retail giants. And 40% of Gen Z say they prioritize shopping at small businesses for holiday purchases and special occasions compared to 32% of millennials who say the same.

Looking for creative ways to shop local this year? Here’s how Gen Z can support small businesses during the holidays, according to experts.

Buy Holiday Gifts at Local Boutiques and Gift Shops

Holiday shopping on Amazon may be easier, especially if a friend or family member has an Amazon wish list. But instead of shopping online this year, consider buying most — if not all — of your gifts at smaller, locally owned shops.

“You may need to do some advanced planning and research each store’s website to figure out which gifts to buy for each person on their list,” said Nathan Liao, founder of CMA Exam Academy. “This means the holiday shopping process should start sooner than later as opposed to waiting until the last minute and then heading over to a big-box department store to get all their gifts.”

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This may take more legwork on your part, but the benefit to small business owners and your local economy may be worth it.

“Shopping local brings money back into local communities, helps small businesses thrive and creates more local jobs,” Liao explained. “When people choose to shop local, they’re saying no to monopolizing mass corporations and helping to boost their local economy.”

Share Local Gift Ideas on Your Social Media

When you see something you love at a local boutique, why not snap a photo and recommend it on social media?

“Gen Zers are very active on social media networks, and they can really help out local businesses by posting Instagram stories and TikTok videos about local stores’ fun gift options for the holidays,” said Liao. “You don’t even have to go to the stores to capture images or videos to post. You can easily share what stores have already posted on their social channels.”

Buy Groceries for Holiday Parties at Local Food Stores

Are you hosting Thanksgiving — or Friendsgiving — dinner at your house this year? Consider purchasing your groceries at local farmer’s markets and food shops. Or hire a local caterer for more formal holiday parties.

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“Young people can really help local businesses by buying vegetables, meats, seasonings and other food items from locally owned co-ops, butcher shops and specialty food stores,” Liao said.

Leave a Positive Google Review After Shopping

Small businesses rarely have the same marketing budget that large companies do, which can put them at a disadvantage when it comes to creating a competitive online presence. But posting a positive review on a local business’ Google Business profile can help boost their SEO ranking and online credibility, said Vaibhav Kakkar, CEO of Digital Web Solutions.

“Positive reviews help level the playing field and make a company more visible to potential new clients,” he said.

But don’t limit yourself to Google. If you loved the products or service at a small business in your area, consider leaving them a review on Yelp, too, said Jean Will, who launched her own small business, Ombreprom, in 2018.

“Writing nice reviews on sites like Yelp and neighborhood social media pages is a great way to show support,” she said. “If you tell your neighbors that the local pizza business just gave you the tastiest eggplant sub you’ve ever had, this might result in a significant increase in income for them.”

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Purchase Gift Cards From Local Merchants

Thanks to their versatility, gift cards are generally a popular choice for holiday gifts. Before buying them at giant retail chains, though, check to see if local boutiques or shops in your area sell gift cards.

“That can demonstrate your thoughtfulness as opposed to relying on major merchants like Target and Amazon,” Will said.

Just make sure you only buy local gift cards for people who live nearby or have access to those shops.

Hold Holiday Events at Locally Owned Venues

If you’re hosting a holiday party this year but don’t feel like cleaning for it, consider holding it at a local venue. It’s a good idea to call ahead and see if their space is open and available for the day of your party.

“Ask if a nearby café will let you take over the space for the evening,” Will said. “It will save you the trouble of cleanup and may make for a more memorable experience.”

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