In January 2022, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance surveyed 908 small, independent businesses across the U.S. We asked about the challenges they face and the policies they believe would improve the survival and success of small businesses.
(In addition to the overall results presented here, we posed additional questions to a subset of 94 respondents who reported being third-party sellers on Amazon’s Marketplace. You can see what they said about their experiences selling on Amazon here.)
Topping the list of challenges they face were three issues that all have to do with the unchecked exercise of market power by dominant corporations:
- 65% of respondents rated as a top challenge the fact that their big competitors strongarm suppliers, winning special discounts, while forcing suppliers to charge independent businesses more.
- 62% of businesses said Amazon’s control over the online market was a very or extremely significant challenge.
- 58% of businesses reported that a major challenge is that their big competitors sell goods and services below cost, which is a predatory tactic designed to take market share from small rivals without having to compete for it.
We also asked businesses about the policy actions that would be most helpful. The five policies cited as most effective were:
- Ending subsidies and tax breaks for big businesses
- Breaking up and/or regulating Amazon
- Investing in downtowns and neighborhood business districts
- Strengthening antitrust policy and enforcement
- Capping credit card swipe fees
In addition to answering multiple-choice questions, business owners provided hundreds of comments to open-ended questions. We analyzed these responses for additional insights and include a sample of them in the report.
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