Eighty-seven percent of Latin Americans and Caribbeans are more likely to buy in businesses in their local communities now than a year ago, a trend that has developed in the wake of lockdowns because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study published by the multinational company Mastercard.

Loyalty and solidarity with neighborhood businesses have flourished due to the difficulties experienced because of the pandemic and have resulted in increased spending in fruit and vegetable stores, hairdressers, cafes and bars.

"When people reconnect with their local communities they rediscover a large number of varied and special small businesses in their communities and neighborhoods," said Daniel Acosta, Vice President of Commercial Products for Mastercard Latin America and the Caribbean.

Acosta said that "economic recovery starts at our doorstep, and local shops and communities play a huge role in helping recovery and a return to growth.”

The role of small business in national economies has been severely affected by the health crisis and that is why Mastercard has allocated $250 million worldwide to help "the local heroes" reemerge within local economies and the global economy.

The multinational payments company has launched initiatives such as Mastercard Digital Allies, a coalition with other companies to accelerate the digitization of small businesses.

In addition, the "Essentials" marketing campaign encourages consumers to buy in local stores with a series of discounts and benefits.

Mastercard conducted a survey in 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Peru, to better understand consumption trends and shopping habits after confinement was lifted.

The study showed that 68% of buyers are actively spending money in their local communities to help independent businesses get back on their feet.

Eighty percent said they had discovered new stores in their communities since the start of lockdown.

The vast majority (90%) say they intend to continue shopping in their community, even after all restrictions on shopping and movement have been lifted.

Almost nine in ten (89%) say that the last several months have made them more aware of people in need and 88% say they have a greater sense of belonging to their community.

Of the people who responded to the survey, 71% said that in the future they will eat and drink more at local restaurants to help them recover and 63% said that they plan to go to their local hairdresser rather than resorting to haircuts at home by family members, friends or themselves.

The local businesses most likely to see a post-confinement revival are greengrocers, cafes and restaurants, bakeries, independent clothing stores, barbers and hairdressers, butchers, bars, newsstands, bookstores, cheese stores, charity stores, gift shops, hardware stores, and DIY stores.

Acosta, Vice President of Commercial Products for Mastercard Latin America and the Caribbean, said that small businesses are "the backbone of the economy.”

"We have expanded and introduced a number of platforms, services and campaigns to help small businesses thrive throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and we are encouraging everyone to join in celebrating their local heroes and shop locally," he said.

Roberto Ramirez, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Mastercard Latin America and the Carribean, said that small businesses are one of the groups that have been impacted most by the pandemic and that is why the company has decided to help them.

"We take care of connecting them with technology platforms that allow them to operate online so they can prosper in the new reality, and we do that through Digital Allies," he explained.

But Mastercard is also concerned about "connecting them with their customers, both old and new, which is why we focus strongly on encouraging people to go to local stores in Latin America with initiatives like our latest ‘Essentials’ campaign,” Ramirez said. EFE