A new nationwide survey of independent business owners yielded powerful evidence that pro-local attitudes are growing, driving customer traffic and indicates the educational work of Shop Local Raleigh and more than one hundred similarly-organized groups are yielding large benefits for their members.
The seventh annual survey by the Institute for Local Self Reliance tallied responses from 2602 businesses, all independent and locally-owned, across all 50 states. About half were retailers. Among the notable results:
- Independent businesses reported revenue growth of 5.3% on average in 2013. The retailers surveyed experienced a 1.4% increase in same-store holiday sales, comparable to many competing chains.
- Independent businesses in communities with an active “buy independent/buy local” campaign run by grassroots groups like Shop Local Raleigh saw revenues grow 7.0% in 2013, tripling the 2.3% increase for those in areas without an alliance.
- More than 75% of businesses located in cities with active Independent Business Alliances / Local First organizations reported increased customer traffic or other benefits from these initiatives.
- “Businesses that participate more [in their community’s IBA/Shop Local Raleigh campaign] report a bigger impact from the campaign than those who are less engaged.” (p 7)
The survey also assessed major concerns of independent business owners, indicating:
- Competition from large online companies poses the greatest challenge for retailers. More than three-quarters of independent retailers said their sales were hurt by internet competitors not being required to collect sales tax.
- Top policy priorities among respondents are closing the loophole that allows giant online retailers to avoid collecting sales tax to large online retailers, eliminating public subsidies and tax loopholes for large corporations and limiting credit card processor swipe fees.
- For businesses which applied for bank loans within the past two years, 42% either were denied or received less money than requested.
“Independent businesses are making huge strides when it comes to communicating their value and building community support…” said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
“It’s great to see such thorough data supporting what we hear from local Alliances — that their work continues to shift local consciousness and is driving more business to local independents,” said Jeff Milchen, co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance, which partnered in the survey. Shop Local Raleigh is a member AMIBA, a national network of more than 85 community alliances supporting local entrepreneurs.