Charleston is a top 10 US city for shopping local, according to new study

By Warren Wise, as featured in the Post and Courier, December 6, 2018:

A few years ago King Street was named one of the top shopping districts in America.

Now, a new survey places Charleston among the top places to shop locally.

The Holy City comes in No. 10 on the top 20 list by online review platform Yelp. It identified cities that have the best selection for consumers “who love shopping small.”

The survey only chose one city in each state, and that city had to have at least 100 relevant businesses.

Laguna Beach, Calif., received top billing, with Asheville, N.C., coming in second.

“Over the past 11 years Lowcountry Local First has been working to keep our city unique and vibrant by supporting the local independent businesses that make Charleston a top 10 city for local shopping,” said Jamee Haley, executive director of Lowcountry Local First.

She pointed to the group’s Buy Local Month campaign, going on now through Dec. 15, and the Eat Local Month promotion as part of the awareness efforts to support small businesses.

“We also provide the relationship building and technical assistance that is critical to the survival of these businesses that help define the culture of the place we call home,” Haley said.

Explore Charleston, the tourism-driving agency in the region, also called the Yelp report another win for the Lowcountry.

“The Charleston area is blessed with a high-quality, diverse local retail scene,” said Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston. “It’s become one of our region’s most popular attributes among both locals and visitors. For local retail to receive this recognition is encouraging and further testament to Charleston’s relevance.”

Yelp analyzed its 2012-2017 data to find the types of businesses that are most popular during the holiday season within categories such as shopping, food, and beauty and spas.

The cities with the highest ratings for businesses in those categories were then identified. Given the emphasis on holiday shopping, only gift-related reviews were counted.

“Nothing feels better than buying a unique holiday gift and supporting a great local business at the same time,” said Hannah Cheesman of Yelp.

The survey found 150 million Americans are likely to shop at a locally owned business for gifts this year, spending on average $424.