Phoenix Rolls Out COVID-19 Shopping Support for Local Business

by Eric Jay Toll

Phoenix businesses looking for traction in the pandemic economy are one click away from a new resource from the city. A two-part campaign to promote shopping at local businesses rolled out on Dec. 1.

Phoenix is placing a priority on helping local businesses navigate the new normal world of pandemic-impacted commerce. Companies with fewer than 25 employees represent more than 70 percent of all businesses in Phoenix.

The city rolled out the hashtag #LoveLocalPHX to generate traction on social media and encourage Phoenix residents and visitors to support local businesses.

Using the hashtag #LoveLocalPHX increases brand awareness and increases the number of people who see the social media post, says the #LoveLocalPHX merchant-directed website. Merchants, non-profits, restaurants and service providers can use #LoveLocalPHX in all social media posts. For an extra marketing boost, businesses should consider adding the #LoveLocalPHX hashtag to email signatures on emails with customers as well.

For merchants, the city posted on the website a downloadable window poster/counter sign promoting the #LoveLocalPHX campaign.

“This is not just about holiday shopping. The pandemic has gone on longer than any of us expected it would,” said Mayor Kate Gallego. “Phoenix is committed to helping local retailers figure out creative ways to reinvent their business models and stay resilient during the coming holidays and shopping season beyond the new year.”

Phoenix offers support to small businesses through multiple city departments. Resources are now available in one place, here. The Phoenix Small Business COVID-19 Support Team is reached from the website or during city business hours by calling the Small Business Hotline at 602-262-5040.

The #LoveLocalPHX Small Business COVID Support campaign initiative comes on the heels of delivering nearly $19 million in grants and utility-payment assistance to more than 2,000 small businesses over the summer.

During the holiday shopping season, the focus leans towards helping local retailers.

“Our members are really learning to turn assets into ways to stand out as unique shopping experiences,” said Thomas Barr, executive director of Local First Arizona. “Retailers need to use every outlet to tell their stories.”

Barr recommends that businesses become active on social media.

“Get customers’ reviews. Reviews help raise a business’ visibility,” he said. “Ask customers to post one after a positive experience.”

Listed on the city’s Phoenix.gov/SmallBusiness website are more ideas and updates relaying tips for the pandemic economy. The site links to city departments that help local businesses navigate assistance and other resources available from Phoenix. New ideas and suggestions will be updated on the website throughout the holiday season.

The emphasis on local business support has its genesis in how locally-owned companies contribute to the Phoenix economy. It’s called the “multiplier effect.” When money is spent in a locally-owned business, a significant portion is retained in the Greater Phoenix economy. That money is spent on payroll and making purchases from other local vendors.

“Local retailers are an integral part of the Phoenix economy,” said Mayor Gallego. “When a shopper spends $100 in a locally-owned store, $43 of that stays in Greater Phoenix. It’s a tremendous investment in the local economy.”

Barr stresses that businesses need to be resilient in the pandemic economy.

“Part of promotion should include reasons to support the local business,” he said. “It’s important for shoppers to understand about retaining dollars locally.”

The pandemic economy presents challenges and opportunities for businesses, including the need to focus on the health and safety of patrons and employees.

“Businesses should look at doing things differently than they did before They need to take advantage of the continuing demand for digital services,” said Barr. “Businesses need to adjust for contactless transactions and change the way sales take place to accept online or digital payments or allow for in-person or curbside pickup, as examples.”

Taking a new look at how goods and services are delivered will help businesses remain resilient and agile. Those businesses are likely to fare better this holiday season and into 2021.

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