The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the associated restrictions and lockdowns, inevitably affected local businesses. Many of these businesses showed great resilience and inventiveness and managed, in uncertain and tremendously difficult times, to adapt to the circumstances.
Without a doubt, it is a priority for the proper functioning of the economy that, now that we are finally getting back to normality, we can encourage consumption in this type of establishment. That is precisely the vision of a company like American Express, which, for the third consecutive year, has launched the Shop Small campaign with the aim of encouraging spending in local businesses. An initiative that, as they assure from the company, represents a key support for local commerce, the backbone of the Spanish economy.
After the pandemic, the well-known slogan "think global, consume local" seems to make more sense than ever. Although we are part of digitally connected societies, support for businesses in the neighborhood where we live is still essential to maintain a healthy and cohesive social and economic fabric.
For American Express, the Spanish market is of key importance. For this reason, it is once again launching this campaign in our country, which first saw the light of day in 2010 in the United States and in which, in 2020, up to 18 countries participated.
With the aim of promoting the reunion between citizens and businesses in their area, American Express has increased the visibility of establishments. To do this, it has made available to the holders of its famous cards a map of the businesses that participate in this proposal, as well as how to contact them. Likewise, it has also provided communication supports at the point of sale so that the client can quickly recognize their link with the campaign.
Shop Small, which will be in force until July 31, 2022, is part of a continuous policy of support for this group and consists of various initiatives, such as a direct incentive system for the purchase of the final customer, consisting of offering a discount to American Express cardholders €5 for every €20 spent in local establishments (the offer is valid up to 5 times, one per participating merchant).
As part of the campaign, American Express has conducted a survey among 1,500 merchants and consumers, to better understand the changes generated in consumption habits during the last two years.
In the words of Julia López Fernandez, vice president and general manager of the establishments area of American Express Spain, "the objective is to be able to collect valuable information that can help local businesses to adapt more effectively to the new needs of their customers" .
The results yield interesting conclusions. Just under half of traders are more optimistic in 2022 about their own business. In fact, 36% believe that their global situation will improve this year.
The establishments declare that, in 2021, the level of sales did not reach the levels prior to the pandemic, remaining 19% below the results of 2019, and they foresee that the crisis caused by the coronavirus will finally end in 2023. Now With the waves of the pandemic receding, the main concerns are, rather, inflation, the drop in sales and meeting the fixed costs of rent, supplies and suppliers.
Likewise, 57% of retail businesses perceive the support of their customers and also a change in attitude and variations in consumption habits. The most innovative factors are the appearance of new customers, the greater closeness and warmth in the treatment and the promotion of digital payments (either by card or mobile). Consumers corroborate this impression: 71% go shopping with the same or more frequency than before the pandemic, making 77% of their spending in physical stores, with a notable presence of sectors such as food and culture. 75% of consumers acknowledge their support for this type of establishment, in which they usually spend around €170 per month.
Another piece of good news: local businesses have not lowered their guard: 2 out of 3 have developed new initiatives in the last year, incorporating innovative products and marketing actions, readjusting their hours and incorporating new means of payment.
On the other hand, 3 out of 4 merchants are aware of the importance of diversifying contact and sales channels. On average, they already use 2.7 channels, with a high presence of social networks (67%) and web pages (57%). 39% of businesses already make online sales, which represent 23% of total sales.
55% of consumers, for their part, maintain that local commerce will be strengthened after the crisis. Traders point out that, in addition to the stability in the prices of supplies, digital transformation can be a substantial factor for this. Finally, it should be noted that 91% of merchants think that their premises should be sustainable, and 84% have already begun to take action to achieve it.
Initiatives such as Shop Small have as their mission, as explained by Julia López, Vice President and General Director of the Establishments Area of American Express Spain, to help local businesses "consolidate themselves as one of the fundamental actors in the economic recovery". For López, there is no doubt that "the great support expressed by consumers surveyed for this type of establishment reaffirms our vocation for commitment to local commerce, so we trust that this trend will continue to rise as the impact of the pandemic subsides".