Survey: Half of Montana shoppers say local businesses provide better service

Local shoppers supported Missoula’s array of small businesses over the weekend as part of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. (Missoula Current)

Anecdotally at least, Small Business Saturday was a hit in downtown Missoula, wedged as it was between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

While hard numbers aren’t available, the Missoula Downtown Association said this year’s crowd was larger than last year’s, and businesses reported a steady flow of patrons throughout the day.

“I walked around shopping for myself afterwards and the people I talked to said it was insanity and they were busy putting their store back together, which is great,” said Kristen Sackett, marketing and events director for the MDA. “It was very busy and friends of mine even said every store was packed.”

A 50-state survey commissioned by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses found that 108 million people shopped at a local small business this year.

In Montana, the survey found that 43 percent of shoppers supported a local bar or restaurant, 22 percent a local clothing store and 19 percent a local novelty shop.

The survey also found that 61 percent of patrons went shopping locally for other family members, and 45 percent also shopped for themselves. Four percent shopped for a colleague.

Of those shoppers, 48 percent stated that locally owned businesses provide better customer service, and 32 percent said shopping locally was convenient. The survey also found that 25 percent of shoppers believe local businesses have a better selection of items.

Sackett said the MDA should have more local data next year now that it has hired a business development director. Until then, Sackett said, the turnout indicated a strong 2017 event.

“It was definitely busier than last year, for sure,” said Sackett. “It was a super-fun day and people had a great time.”