How to decide when to shop local and when to shop online

October 02, 2023

Use these helpful tips to spend responsibly while supporting your community.

With smartphones, laptops and tablets at our fingertips, it’s easy and convenient to shop online. It gives us access to everything we could ever need, even niche and vintage objects we won’t find elsewhere. But when it comes to everyday essentials, shopping on the internet has drawbacks. Buying items that you can otherwise find in your local community leads to unnecessary environmental impact and lost revenue for your neighborhood, or another neighborhood in need.

Here are some things to consider when deciding if you want to shop virtually or in your community.

 

Shopping local supports your community

There are many benefits to spending money in your neighborhood. For example, stopping in frequently lets you develop a relationship with the store owners. The social connection is always a benefit, plus you can learn so much more about the products you purchase.

Economically, spending locally strengthens your community. In particular, aim to avoid chains and opt to support small businesses instead. For every $100 spent at a small business, nearly 70% stays in the local economy rather than going back into a large corporate system, according to Forbes.

Funneling money back into your community creates more jobs, promotes diversity, improves local product supply networks and even increases home values. Since many small retailers are strained due to current economic pressures, you may also choose to shop for necessities, specialty items or gifts in nearby neighborhoods who could also benefit from additional financial support right now.

 

Shipping impacts your wallet and the environment

When you see a trendy item online, it can be tempting to purchase it right away – especially when just a few clicks are required. But before checking out, stop to think about shipping. Not only will shipping be harmful on the environment with the fuel used to transport the item from its original destination directly to your home, it will also likely cost you additional money.

While having a package delivered directly to your door is convenient, those shipping costs could be allocated elsewhere in your budget. Think about how else you might be able to spend the money – perhaps you could donate it to a cause you care about, put it toward your savings or use it to support a small business nearby.

Some items simply can’t be accessed easily within your geographic area, and in those cases, it makes sense to purchase from an online marketplace and pay for shipping. If you do place an online order, be sure to order everything you’ll need at once instead of one at a time. This will reduce waste by cutting back on the number of packages sent.

 

Be conscientious with your purchases

To make shopping local part of your regular routine, plan ahead. Use resources like maps, review sites and referrals from friends and neighbors to make a list of small businesses you want to support. Add several businesses to each category as a guide to reference each time you need to make a certain type of purchase. 

Planning in advance can be especially helpful when it comes to choosing whether to shop online or shop local. At the beginning of each week or month, try to anticipate any large or specialty purchases you’ll need to make. If there’s something you aren’t able to find in your community, online shopping is a great second option. Doing your best to limit online orders from massive marketplaces will help the environment, your finances and your neighborhood.

 

Find answers to common questions and advice on making smart financial choices.

Related content

What to do with your tax refund or bonus

5 tips for parents opening a bank account for kids

Loud budgeting explained: Amplify your money talk

3 financial tools to help automate your finances

5 financial goals for the new year

How to financially prepare for pet costs

How to Adult: 5 ways to track your spending

3 steps to prepare for a medical emergency

Family planning for the LGBTQ+ community

Preparing for adoption and IVF

11 essential things to do before baby comes

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Starting a family

3 tips for saving money when moving to a new home

5 ways to maximize your garage sale profits 

Pros and cons of a personal line credit

Tips for handling rising costs from an Operation HOPE Financial Wellbeing coach

Tips to earn that A+ in back-to-school savings

Mindset Matters: How to practice mindful spending

Uncover the cost: International trip

Uncover the cost: Wedding

Is a Health Savings Account missing from your retirement plan?

How to manage your finances when you're self-employed

Does your side business need a separate bank account?

How to choose the right business savings account

How to save money while helping the environment

Working with an accountability partner can help you reach your goals

7 steps to prepare for the high cost of child care

How to decide when to shop local and when to shop online

5 myths about emergency funds

How to save for a wedding

Stay on budget — and on the go — with a mobile banking app

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

5 things to consider when deciding to take an unplanned trip

5 tips for creating (and sticking to) a holiday budget

How can I help my student manage money?

How to increase your savings

Bank from home with these digital features

Good money habits: 6 common money mistakes to avoid

Key components of a financial plan

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

How to gain financial independence from your parents

How to manage money in the military: A veteran weighs in

Are professional movers worth the cost?

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

Saving for a down payment: Where should I keep my money?

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Travel for less: Smart (not cheap) ways to spend less on your next trip

Should you buy now, pay later?

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know what an overdraft is?

Tips for working in the gig economy

Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

Growing your savings by going on a ‘money hunt’

Why a mobile banking app is a ‘must have’ for your next vacation

Tips to raise financially healthy kids at every age

How compound interest works

How I kicked my online shopping habit and got my spending under control

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Financial checklist: Preparing for military deployment

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Webinar: Common budget mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Checking and savings smarts: Make your accounts work harder for you

Are savings bonds still a thing?

Allowance basics for parents and kids

9 simple ways to save

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

3 ways to keep costs down at the grocery store (and make meal planning fun)

What military service taught me about money management

6 pandemic money habits to keep for the long term

College budgeting: When to save and splurge

How to save money in college: easy ways to spend less

Costs to consider when starting a business

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

Your 4-step guide to financial planning

Consolidating debts: Pros and cons to keep in mind

Improving your credit score: Truth and myths revealed

The connection between your health and financial well-being

Should rising interest rates change your financial priorities?

Saving vs. investing: What's the difference?

Dear Money Mentor: How do I set and track financial goals?

Retirement expectations quiz

Lost job finance tips: What to do when you lose your job

What I learned from my mom about money

6 ways to spring clean your finances and save money year-round

How to cut mindless spending: real tips from real people

Financial gifts can be a valuable – and fun – choice for the holidays

What financial advice would you give your younger self?

Practical money tips we've learned from our dads

What’s in your emergency fund?

Certificates of deposit: How they work to grow your money

Dear Money Mentor: How do I pick a savings or checking account?

How I did it: Deciding whether to buy an RV

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

Money management guide to financial independence

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

U.S. Bank asks: Transitioning out of college life? What’s next?

How to track expenses

How having savings gives you peace of mind

30-day adulting challenge: Financial wellness tasks to complete in a month

First-timer’s guide to savings account alternatives

Does your savings plan match your lifestyle?

3 tips for saving money easily

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce

Myths vs. facts about savings account interest rates

Military homeownership: Your guide to resources, financing and more

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know your finances?

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

Healthcare costs in retirement: Are you prepared?

U.S. Bank asks: What do you know about credit?

7 financial questions to consider when changing jobs

Webinar: 5 myths about emergency funds

How to best handle unexpected expenses

Disclosures

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.