Shopping at Local Shops (Businesses): 12 Real Disadvantages 

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

woman shopping

We often hear the business mantra touted that communities should support locals and shop at small businesses within the community, but is this always the best idea for the consumer? I can quite confidently say that it is not. While it’s great to want to support small businesses, it could mean bad things for your preferences and pocket. Today, we’ll take a look at the drawbacks of shopping at small local shops and businesses.

Shopping at small local businesses can sometimes put you at a disadvantage, but that doesn’t completely negate their convenience. With that in mind, the following drawbacks and disadvantages can be expected when shopping at small local shops instead of bigger, more prominent chains.

12 drawbacks & disadvantages of shopping at local shops:

1. Less variety (limited items and variances).

You might be wondering why smaller stores and businesses have less variety than other businesses… the answer is simple: money. Large chain stores and huge corporations have all the money in the world to spend on stock. The smaller business owner does not. 

At your local small business, you might find what you are looking for, but you won’t find much in terms of variety. Perhaps there will be one type of cheese instead of several to choose from. If you like variety, shopping at a small shop can become frustrating and disappointing. 

2. Higher cost per product due to lack of buying power.

Let’s talk about the cost of buying goods…When you shop at a local small store, you might find that the prices attached to each product are higher than expected. This isn’t because the shop is trying to rip you off. It’s because larger chains and corporations have buying power. When they buy their stock in bulk, they get a better price, and that means you get a better price too. So, small local stores may have higher prices than bigger businesses. 

3. Inconvenience of having to go to several stores to find everything you need.

Will you find absolutely everything on your shopping list at the local shop or business? Unfortunate, that’s not always possible. You won’t find everything you need at the local small shop because it only makes sense for the shop owner to stock fast-moving items. If you would like to buy the day’s groceries and pick up some batteries and glue, you might have to go to a second store to get the extra goodies. This can be quite inconvenient. 

4. Fewer promotions and specials.

Why do big stores run so many promotions when small local stores seem to run none? That’s a question I have often wondered about…

Well, big stores have more room to play with their profit margins, so it often means that they can regularly run sales and specials on their stock. This isn’t something that a small local business can do, as their profit margins are generally smaller than large stores. Regular promotions and specials can end up crippling a small business. 

5. Business hours are often limited or set for “business hours”, which are 9 to 5.

How convenient is it to pop out during the day to do the grocery shopping? Not convenient at all, right. Most of us like to do our shopping after work or on the weekends. Large chain stores usually offer later shopping hours so that customers can return from work and then go do their shopping. Small local stores might not offer this convenience as it will involve hiring more staff or paying overtime, which can be an ill affordable expense for a small business

6. Very often, there is no online ordering system in place with small stores.

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Do you like to do some of your shopping online? Most of us do. Do all small stores offer a website with an online ordering system? Unfortunately, they do not. A small corner shop in your local neighborhood will probably not have a website and online ordering system like the mass-produce store operating by the local shopping mall. This could mean an inconvenience for you if you wish to do some of your shopping online. 

7. Most small businesses/stores don’t offer delivery.

What if you need a few things, but don’t want or can’t get to the shop yourself? Can you order in? Big chain stores often offer delivery to your home. This is a massive convenience. However, small local shops and businesses would struggle to handle the logistics of a delivery system, so in many cases (not all), you won’t be able to have your goods delivered to your door if you shop at small local businesses. 

8. No rewards or loyalty systems in place. 

One of the big drawcards of large stores and businesses is that they can afford to reward their customers for their support. This is often done with rewards programs or loyalty cards and systems. A small local business is unable to compete in this particular area as reward systems will merely eat into the limited profits of the business. You lose out as a customer of a small local business, as being rewarded is, well…rewarding. 

9. Fewer jobs are provided at small businesses than at larger chains.

Jobs are something that is of importance at the moment. Large chains and mass-produce stores create jobs – that’s an undeniable fact. There’s no way around it. If there were only small local businesses to support, imagine how many jobs would be lost in your community alone. Supporting large businesses often means you are providing a means of income for members of your community. 

10. Your shopping gets disturbed by forming personal relationships with the staff.

Forming relationships with people in a small setting is a lot easier than in a big bustling store. When you shop at small local businesses, you get to know the owners and staff. This means that most visits become a semi-social occasion where you have to greet and chat with other people. If you’re the type that likes to nip in and out of the shop quickly, this is going to be frustrating for you.

11. Limited parking.

It’s true – parking is an issue in most of our lives, and when it comes to small shops, it’s even worse. The small local business’s parking lot pales in comparison to that of the local shopping malls. You might struggle to find parking, which can be annoying, to say the least. 

No available parking slot

12. Lack of security and insurance in most instances.

Small local businesses cannot offer you the same level of security as the large businesses can. They also may not be able to provide you with insurance. Say, for instance, that you slip and fall in a large produce store; insurance will ensure that your damages are covered. The same cannot always be said for a small local business as their level of cover will be fairly limited. 

Last Word

What’s the final outcome? Is it really a big disadvantage to shop at local small stores? The simple answer is that it can be, but that doesn’t mean that you should withhold your support from local stores completely. 

Shopping local might seem quaint and the right thing to do, but it’s potentially not something that you can do consistently as you might not find what you need, you might spend too much, and you also might miss out on a lot of promotions and specials at other larger stores and businesses. Consider these drawbacks carefully the next time you’re trying to decide where to shop!

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.