Small business is winning big: more people than ever searching for, and shouting about local favourites online

19 March 2018 - Shopping habits are seemingly returning to days of old, with more people than ever making the effort to get out, explore their local area and find ‘hidden gems’, a new study by online business directory has revealed.

Posts relating to finding a new local business on the photo-sharing app Instagram, have grown at a rate of more than 50% year-on-year. The most popular terms being used to describe a discovery of a new local business on social channels are all positive, including ‘wonderful’, ‘cool’ and ‘love’. In fact, the use of the term ‘wonderful’ to describe a local business has increased 270% since 2016.

With this heightened rate of discovery, local food and drink establishments are the most popular business types to be shared online, with shares of vegetarian food likes increasing by 408% from 2016-2017, Thai increasing by 217% and Spanish increasing by 200% in the same period. Locally owned vegan eateries closely followed, with a 157% increase.

There is a clear difference in local searches by gender. Men look for architects (58%), barbers (57%) and internet cafes (56%), whereas women are more likely to search for eyelash services (66%), nail salons (64%) and window cleaners (64%).

When it comes to regions, the City of Westminster leads the way where local discoveries are concerned, with more consumers sharing an experience than anywhere else in the UK over the past year. Manchester and Edinburgh follow in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

The study also found that Sunday is our most preferred ‘day of discovery’, with 16% of all local shares via Instagram or Facebook, happening on what was traditionally seen as the day of rest.

Over 110,000[1] start-ups have already been launched in 2018 and to further celebrate the resurgence of local businesses, is visiting 20 cities in the UK to celebrate the nation’s local small businesses.

Heading up this campaign to ‘#lovelocal’ is former BBC Dragons’ Den panellist and champion of small business Sarah Willingham, who comments: “Small, local businesses can offer more exciting, enjoyable and personal experiences, so it’s amazing to see these local discoveries are being more readily embraced and shared by the British public. What I love about being an investor is discovering the small businesses in the country that are doing something different, so I think it’s great that is helping the country to discover these gems in their local areas more easily, too!

On the findings, Yell CEO Richard Hanscott also commented: “From starting the Yellow Pages in 1966 and launching in 1996, we have always strived to bring the nation’s small businesses into the limelight and are excited to tour the UK and take this a step further throughout the coming year.

The findings of our study show that these local businesses truly are the backbone of the UK, and the heightened social media conversations and interactions show they will become ever more important to local communities, with a new tech-savvy generation seeking out new discoveries and places that aren’t your high street stalwarts”.

For more information on the campaign, please visit:

- ENDS -

Media Contact

Sarah O’Rafferty
Head of Public Relations
0118 912 8999

Richard Paul
01273 760975

Hannah Harris
01273 760992

About Yell

Yell is No.1 for managed digital marketing services for all types of local businesses in the UK*. Its goal is simple; to connect consumers and businesses online. now provides advanced tools to support consumers in their search for suppliers, including ratings and reviews, mobile apps and social media sharing. Yell is one of the largest resellers of Google Ads in the UK and provides the full range of digital media and managed services for businesses with Pay Per Click, Websites, Display adverts, Social media and directory listings. Over 130,000 businesses currently advertise with Yell, and is used by millions of consumers every month.

About Sarah Willingham

Sarah is an entrepreneur, investor and consumer expert – best known for her previous role as one of the ‘dragons’ of the popular BBC series Dragons’ Den. Her main successes as an entrepreneur have included turning The Bombay Bicycle Club into the largest and most successful Indian restaurant chain in the UK and taking the likes of Pizza Express and Planet Hollywood onto greater success.

Notes to editors:

Study data gained from social reporting tools AudienceView and Brandwatch.

  • Increase in most used terms to describe making a local discovery (2016 v 2017):
    • Use of 'wonderful' grew by 270%
    • Use of 'cool' grew by 148%
    • Use of 'love' grew by 142%

1Number of UK start-ups launched in 2018 courtesy of: Amount correct at time of writing
*Source: M-Brain research 2017, #1 in terms of revenue from sales of managed digital marketing services