Despite the overwhelming challenges faced by many over the last two years, Australian consumers are eager to support their local businesses, 85% of whom are optimistic about the next year, according to new research from leading communications payments platform, Podium.

Podium’s second Annual State of Local Business research shows that consumers favour their local businesses more than ever, prioritise those that offer ease and convenience – such as texting and click & collect – and give back to their communities. 

“When the pandemic first hit, many of us went out of our way to support a local business and had to adjust to new ways of interacting with them from click-and-collect to payments via text,” Podium Australia country manager, Dave Scheine said.

“What this latest research shows is that ‘supporting local’ wasn’t a short-term trend; it’s here to stay and so are Covid-safe services. Consumers are deeply invested in supporting the businesses that keep their local communities thriving and they’ve come to expect digital-friendly ways of doing business with them – especially early in 2022 as local cases surge.”

While 2022 promises more certainty and stability, many customer expectations have changed permanently. Consumers are looking for convenience when supporting local businesses. Offering services that were previously a nice-to-have such as texting, contactless payment options and click & collect are now necessary for the 68% of consumers who report spending more money on online purchases in the past 12 months.

Doing business locally is an integral part of everyday life with seven in 10 consumers frequenting a local business at least once a week, prioritising those with a community and charity focus. The research found that consumers are 19% more likely to opt-in to a local business’ SMS marketing lists than a major chain or big business, and 49% more likely than online or e-commerce businesses.