Are customers doing more to support small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The quick answer, yes and no. First the bad news, they are often restricted from purchasing more. If I wanted to patronize my local movie theater or my favorite restaurant more I’m restricted from doing so – that’s not good. However, the good news. My work with Dave Kolar and Michel Laroche found that when consumers were able to patronize the business they gave more than they needed to. They gave in the form of tips. Consumers of a local independent coffee shop were tipping more than they did prior to the pandemic and in the case of an independent movie theater they tipped the staff (usually after coming in to only purchase popcorn) even though they rarely did so before the pandemic. What does this mean for small businesses? Keep the consumer interaction if you can (in a safe way). If consumers can interact with an employee they are more likely to tip now more than ever. It doesn’t offset the losses the small businesses are suffering but it helps. Support for small business during a health crisis – JSR – 2021

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