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Size Matters: Consumers willing to pay more to support local small businesses

By Sara Bedal |

Despite the proliferation of "big box" stores, Canadians consumers are still spending their hard-earned dollars at local small businesses. And they're even willing to pay a premium to do so.

A recent survey by TD Canada Trust reveals that 31% of Canadian adults would be willing to pay up to 10% more than the cost at big box stores to support local small businesses in their community.

All things being equal, Canadians' overwhelming preference is to shop at independent businesses. Survey respondents were asked to imagine that they needed to make a purchase of a household item priced at $100 at a local, independent store and $100 at the local big box store (located in the same area). Sixty-five per cent of them said they would choose the independent store.

When asked what they see as the top advantages of buying products or services from a local small business, they cited:

  • More attentive or personalized, friendly service - 69%;
  • Relationship with business owner - 50%; and
  • Better-quality products or unique products - 28% /Faster to get shopping done - 28%

The survey also looked at the attitudes of small business owners. Its findings complement the responses of Canadians toward small businesses—namely, 84% of the 711 small business owners surveyed said they derive satisfaction from the personal connection they have with their customers.

They also reported that owning a small business gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment (97%) and that business ownership has allowed them to donate their time or money to charities, sports teams or cultural events (86%).

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