‘Shop local’ has good momentum building

The holiday shopping season will be strong for community-based mom-and-pop operations that know their customers, customize products and services to community tastes and offer personalized interaction with consumers.

As we have been tracking for several years, shopping malls are on a sharp decline. The big-box stores that anchor those malls, unless they’re upscale retailers in high-income suburban areas, are closing, downsizing or struggling to keep pace. And smaller retailers are no longer benefitting from the foot traffic largely created by the bigger stores and the town-center appeal that malls once had.

This retail sector is overbuilt, created decades ago for a thriving middle class that no longer exists. It is a trend that not only includes malls and big-box stores, but chain restaurants as well. Olive Garden, Applebee’s, TGI Fridays and a host of others are struggling.

That leaves a door wide open for local shop owners and restaurateurs who not only have the benefit of promoting local services, products and farm-to-table quality, but have become quite adept at using social media and other digital platforms to reach niche, but nonetheless robust, audiences.

It took some time, but this is the year that local retailers have just enough digital clout, combined with the aforementioned market dynamics, to position themselves for strong performance.

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