Independent Businesses Report Strong Holiday Sales

Date: 26 Jan 2012 | posted in: Press Release, Retail | 1 Facebooktwitterredditmail

“Buy Local” on the minds of more shoppers, businesses report


CONTACT: (Additional contacts below)Stacy Mitchell, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 207-774-6792

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (Jan. 26, 2012) – An annual survey has found that independent businesses had strong sales growth over the holidays and appear to be benefitting from growing public interest in supporting locally owned retail stores, banks, restaurants, and other enterprises.

The survey, which was conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in partnership with several business associations, gathered data from 1,768 independent businesses across 49 states over an 8-day period in January.

Among the key findings:

  • Independent retailers, which comprised about half the survey respondents, reported stronger holiday sales than the industry average. While overall holiday sales were up 4.1% in 2011, the independent retailers surveyed said their holiday sales increased 6.7% on average.
  • More than three-quarters of the businesses surveyed said that public awareness of the benefits of supporting locally owned businesses had increased in the last year.
  • Independent businesses in communities with an active “buy local” campaign operated by a local business organization reported annual revenue growth of 7.2% in 2011, compared to 2.6% for those in areas without such an initiative. (“Buy local” campaigns run by Independent Business Alliances and Local First groups are now underway in about 150 cities.)
  • Looking specifically at retail respondents, the survey found that those in areas with an active “buy local” campaign reported holiday sales growth of 8.5% in 2011, compared to 5.2% for those retailers in areas without such an initiative.

Download the 2012 Independent Business Survey Results.

Similar surveys over the last four years also found that independent businesses in cities with active “buy local” initiatives reported larger sales gains than those in communities without such initiatives.

“Throughout the holiday season, we were hearing anecdotally from independent business owners that they were especially busy and many customers were seeking out locally owned stores. The results of this survey suggest that this was indeed a widespread trend, particularly in cities with ‘buy local’ initiatives,” said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“What was clearly a growing Shop Local trend is now a business reality,” said American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher. “Shoppers understand how important a strong foundation of healthy local businesses is to their communities — and they are voting in favor of independent retailers with their spending.”

“For the fifth year in a row, we’re seeing locally owned businesses earning more revenue and developing a more loyal following in communities with active Local First campaigns,” said Michelle Long, executive director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. “Americans increasingly recognize why local ownership matters and intentionally support local, independent businesses, creating more jobs, income, and unique communities in the process.”

“We know independent businesses are key to leading the way out of recession. The survey results confirm the growing number of communities refocusing energy on local entrepreneurs, rather than transient corporations, are receiving a great payback from their investment,” said Jennifer Rockne, co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance.

“We are encouraged by the increased awareness and support for independent locally owned businesses, and excited about the positive impact it has on their communities,” said Laurie Harsh, founder of The Fabric Shop Network.

“This year’s independent business survey validates our optimistic views. If reminded, customers want to support neighborhood businesses. People understand that ‘buy local’ matters and strengthens our local economies,” said Parker Karnan, executive director of the Independent Running Retailers Association.

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Dan Cullen, American Booksellers Association, 914-373-6660 Jennifer Rockne, American Independent Business Alliance, 406-582-1255 Jessica Renner, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, 360-746-0840 x107 Laurie Harsh, The Fabric Shop Network, 360-892-6500 Parker Karnan, Independent Running Retailers Association, 206-601-7019


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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.