We all like to talk about the “buy local” movement, but how many consumers actually embrace it?

To find out, we took a look at buy local statistics and research to see who’s shopping local and why.

The Popularity of Buying Local

The overwhelming majority of Americans (90%!) shop at local businesses at least once per week. Data from SCORE, a nonprofit partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration, has found that 42% of Americans shop at local businesses three or more times a week.

Americans who prefer small businesses commonly cite convenience (66%), a desire to support local businesses (63%), a preference for one-of-a-kind products (54%) and a superior customer service experience (53%) as the driving factors behind choosing small businesses.

Local businesses are also strongly preferred by Canadians. According to the Business Development Bank of Canada, 87% of Canadians believe that shopping locally is more environmentally responsible, and 97% of Canadians have bought a local product to support their local economy.

Who Buys Local Products?

If you think that certain genders, ages, or income levels are more likely to buy local, think again.

A study from the Journal of Food Distribution Research has found that these demographic details have surprisingly little impact on the likelihood to buy local. All that really matters is that they understand the impact of buying locally: those who believe that buying locally helps their local economy, or supports the environment, are most likely to buy local. That’s why education is so crucial.

The good news is that many consumers are already aware of those benefits. In a survey of over 2,700 businesses, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that businesses that engaged in “buy local” campaigns grew revenue by more than 5.6%versus 2.1% for other businesses during the same time frame.

You may find more targeted demographic information for your specific business or product, but overall, just adding “we’re local!” to your current advertising messages can have a significant impact.

Locavores are Going Mainstream

Locavores, or people who strongly prefer eating locally-produced food, have become one of the largest driving forces in the buy local movement. According to Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker, 89% of Americans value the source of their food, and 66% of Americans will pay more for local food.

According to Packaged Facts, the local food industry in the U.S. will amount to $20.2 billion by 2019, up from a mere $11.7 billion in 2011. In eight years, the market is projected to almost double, which is good news for both current and new local businesses.

The same research has found that Americans prefer local food because they believe it has higher quality, better taste, and higher production standards. They also believe that local food is healthier for themselves and the environment.

But it’s not just about fresh foods. Nielsen has found that North Americans’ preference for local food extends to non-perishables such as ice cream, cookies, crackers, cereal and even canned vegetables.

shopper researches on her smartphone before buying locally

Shop Online and Buy Local

Though buy local campaigns primarily target local consumers, small businesses shouldn’t neglect online strategies either.

The Business Development Bank of Canada reports that 47% of Canadian consumers conduct online searches before buying products, but 30% of small businesses in Canada still do not have websites. Meanwhile in the U.S., Forbes reports that 82% of consumers consult their phones before making in-store purchases, while SCORE reports that 36% of small businesses in the U.S. don’t have websites, either.

If you own a small business, be sure that your online presence helps consumers understand your company, your products, and the impact of shopping locally.

The Buy Local Movement is Just Getting Started

It’s clear from the numbers that Americans and Canadians have only begun to embrace the shop local movement. Carrying local products, educating consumers about the benefits of shopping locally, and supporting other businesses that are part of the movement is a winning strategy for 2019 and beyond.