Tim Mossholder /

Many shoppers now swearing off big box stores after seeing beloved shops shutter

NEW YORK — Few people have escaped the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and that’s especially true for local ‘mom and pop’ shops. A new study finds half of Americans have witnessed their favorite local businesses close down because of COVID-19.

A survey of 2,000 people reveals 68 percent personally know a local business owner impacted by the pandemic. According to respondents, the most commonly impacted businesses include cafes (62%), retail shops (58%), gaming shops (55%), and book stores (54%).

Supporting local business

While a majority of Americans (71%) want to see small businesses in their community thrive, nearly two-thirds (62%) have witnessed their favorite local businesses struggle to pay rent or pay employees. On average, respondents can name two locally-owned businesses in their community turned down by the government after applying for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) grant.

Commissioned by Templeton Distillery and conducted by OnePoll, researchers also discovered the pandemic has had a major impact on how often 65 percent of people shop locally.

The end of the big box stores?

Three in five respondents (63%) said they don’t mind paying more than retail value for a product if they’re getting it from a local business. In fact, since the start of COVID, 66 percent of consumers have been buying more frequently from local businesses.

Still, the pandemic isn’t the only reason Americans say they’re deciding to shop local. Nearly half the poll (49%) do so because they genuinely believe locally-made products are better quality. Other reasons include knowing the business owner (47%) and knowing the employees (45%).

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) believe their community would never be the same without small businesses. In order to help keep these stores afloat, 48 percent of respondents said they’ve donated an average of $92 to their favorite shops and business owners.

“Small businesses are the backbone of towns and cities around the country,” says Templeton Distillery Co-founder Keith Kerkhoff in a statement. “Templeton, Iowa is one such small town. With just over 300 people, the town continues to be ignited by the spark of simple business ideas that can last for more than 100 years. We want to celebrate the legacy of local businesses everywhere that are just as ignited, while also looking ahead to the exciting future as these businesses bounce back.”

Moms-and-pops can keep the change

Supporting local businessOver half of Americans (53%) add they’ve seriously thought about how they can help local businesses after COVID. This includes increasing the amount of tipping they do. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they tip more for food services now than they did before the pandemic. Moreover, 88 percent said they plan to continue being big tippers after the pandemic comes to an end.

Other helpful ideas people are considering include donating to a business’ grassroots fundraiser (53%), volunteering to work with the business to maintain it (49%), and exclusively shopping local (48%). More than half (55%) added they have sworn off ever going to a big chain store again because of the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses.

“It is incredibly important right now to give back to the small businesses in our communities, especially after all they have been through during the pandemic,” adds Kerkhoff.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink


Chris Melore


Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor