Published Oct 10, 2023

2023 Holiday Shopper Survey: The Appeal of Independent Retailers



The holiday season is a time of joy and giving, and for U.S. consumers, it’s also a time of elevated expectations when it comes to their shopping experience. In 2023, online retailers face greater demands from discerning shoppers seeking good deals, cost savings, seamless services, and personalized offers.

Recently, Celigo surveyed 1,000+ U.S. consumers. These respondents answered questions about how to meet consumers’ expectations.

We have examined some of the survey’s top results:

This article explores the reasons behind independent retailers’ growing popularity and the unique qualities that attract consumers to these small businesses.

You can get the full 2023 Holiday Shopper Survey here.

In an ever-evolving retail landscape dominated by ecommerce giants like Amazon and big-box stores like Target, independent retailers are standing out as a preferred choice among shoppers.

Key Findings:

  • Most shoppers would choose an independent retailer over giants such as Amazon and Target.
  • 53% would pick an independent retailer because they have desirable products that are readily available.
  • 41% believe independent retailers provide greater support and community to consumers.
  • 33% felt that independent retailers offer more personalized customer experiences.

Desirable Products and Availability

One of the key factors driving shoppers towards independent retailers is their ability to offer desirable products that are readily available. A substantial 53% of consumers prefer independent retailers because they stock an array of distinctive products that may not be easily found in larger chains.

These smaller establishments often curate their inventory with a keen eye for quality and uniqueness, making them a go-to destination for shoppers seeking something special.

Sense of Support and Community

In an increasingly impartial retail world, consumers are seeking a more meaningful shopping experience. Independent retailers have tapped into this need by fostering a greater sense of support and community. A notable 41% of shoppers value the connection they feel when supporting local businesses. These establishments are deeply ingrained in the communities they serve, often collaborating with local artisans and hosting events that celebrate the local culture.

By contributing to the local economy and building genuine relationships with customers, independent retailers create a strong sense of loyalty among their clientele.

Personalized Customer Experiences

The charm of independent retailers lies in their ability to provide personalized customer experiences. 33% of shoppers appreciate the attention and care they receive when shopping at these establishments. Unlike larger retailers, independent store owners often take the time to get to know their customers, offering tailored recommendations and catering to individual preferences.

This personal touch enhances the shopping experience and fosters trust and long-term customer relationships.

Excellent Customer Service

Customer service plays a vital role in the overall shopping experience, with 45% of consumers indicating that they will turn away from an online retailer that provides poor customer service.

To stand out in a crowded market, retailers must invest in excellent customer support, including responsive live chat, email, and phone assistance. Promptly resolving customer queries and concerns can enhance customer satisfaction and drive positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Learn more about how to achieve flawless customer service through automation.

Supporting Local and Ethical Shopping

Beyond the allure of unique products and personalized service, an increasing number of consumers are choosing independent retailers due to their ethical and sustainable practices. These businesses are often more inclined to source products locally, support fair trade practices, and minimize their environmental impact.

As conscientious consumerism gains momentum, shoppers are drawn to independent retailers that align with their values and contribute to a positive social and environmental impact.

Nurturing Creativity and Innovation

Independent retailers are at the forefront of nurturing creativity and innovation in the retail sector. Many of these businesses are founded on passion and a vision to offer something different to consumers. As a result, they become hubs for innovative products and emerging brands, constantly introducing fresh ideas to the market.

Shoppers looking for cutting-edge and unique offerings are naturally drawn to these entrepreneurial ventures.

The Appeal of Independent Retailers: Personalized Experiences and Community Support

The attraction to independent retailers stems from their ability to offer more than just products on shelves. They curate desirable merchandise, foster a sense of community, provide personalized experiences, and often promote ethical and sustainable practices.

By supporting these small businesses, consumers find exceptional products and contribute to the growth and vibrancy of their local communities.

As the preference for meaningful shopping experiences continues to rise, independent retailers are poised to play a significant role in the retail landscape, offering a refreshing and customer-centric alternative to the industry giants.

Learn more about ways to improve the holiday shopping experience for your consumers. Get the full 2023 Holiday Shopper Survey here.