#443. Independent Businesses Benefit from “Buy Local First” Campaigns

Posted on | The Agurban

Independent Businesses Benefit from “Buy Local First” Campaigns
Stacy Mitchell, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

An annual survey has found that independent businesses experienced solid revenue growth in 2012, buoyed in part by “buy local first” initiatives and growing public interest in supporting locally owned businesses.

But the survey also documented significant challenges facing independent businesses, most notably an increase in “showrooming” and competition from online retailers, tax and subsidy policies that favor their big competitors, difficulty obtaining loans, and a customer base still reeling from the recession.

The 2013 Independent Business Survey, which was conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in partnership with several business associations, gathered data from 2,377 independent businesses across 50 states and the District of Columbia. Among its findings:

  • Survey respondents reported revenue growth of 6.8% on average. More than two-thirds experienced revenue growth in 2012 — a larger share than in our 2011 and 2010 surveys.
  • Independent businesses in communities with an active “buy local first” initiative run by a local business organization reported average revenue growth of 8.6% in 2012, compared to 3.4% for those in areas without such an initiative.
  • Among survey respondents in cities with a “buy local first” initiative, 75% reported that the initiative had had a positive impact on their business.
  • “Show-rooming” — i.e., customers examining products and seeking information in local stores and then buying online — was identified by independent retailers as one of their biggest challenges. More than 80% said show-rooming was affecting their business, with 47% describing the impact as “moderate” or “significant.”
  • Lack of financing was another top challenge, with 23% businesses surveyed reporting that they had been unable to secure a needed bank loan for their business in the last two years.

“Independent businesses are making huge strides when it comes to communicating their value and building community support, but they are still struggling in an environment in which public policy often gives major advantages to their big competitors,” said Stacy Mitchell, Senior Researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Download the 2013 Independent Business Survey. View the findings of previous surveys conducted over the last five years here.

We have always been big proponents of supporting your local businesses, especially smaller, family owned, local businesses. We challenge you to think local first!