MINNEAPOLIS, MN (Jan. 15, 2009) – In an extremely challenging economic climate, independent retailers are outperforming many chains, a national survey has found.
The survey of 1,142 independent retailers in a wide range categories
(books, toys, clothing, etc.) and across all 50 states found that
holiday sales at independent stores declined an average of 5.0% from the
same time period in 2007. That compares favorably to most competing
chains, including Barnes & Noble (- 7.7%), Best Buy (-6.5%), Borders
(-14.0%), JC Penney (-8.1%), Macy’s (-7.5%), The Gap (-14.0%), and
This week, the Commerce Department reported that December retail sales overall were down a record 9.8% over December 2007.
The survey also found that independent retailers in cities with active
“Buy Local” campaigns reported much stronger holiday sales than those in cities without such campaigns. “Buy Local” or “Local First” campaigns
have been launched in dozens of cities and towns over the last few
years. Independent retailers in these cities reported an average drop
in sales of 3.2%, compared to a steeper decline of 5.6% for those in
cities without an active Buy Local initiative.
The survey was conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a
nonprofit research organization, in partnership with several independent
business organizations, including the American Booksellers Association,
American Independent Business Alliance, American Specialty Toy Retailers Association, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, Independent Music Store Owners coalition, and National Bicycle Dealers Association.
An identical survey last year likewise found that independent businesses
in cities with Buy Local campaigns reported stronger sales than those in
communities without such an initiative.
“During this holiday season, many more customers mentioned their
intentional shopping at local businesses,” said one survey respondent.
“I think that the tough economy this year played a huge role in my
customers intentionally shopping locally. They felt strongly about
supporting those of us who are sticking it out,” said another.
Ninety-five percent of the retailers surveyed said that the fact that
their business is locally owned matters to their customers. That’s up
from 82% in last year’s survey.
“Once again, independent retailers in communities with active shop local
campaigns have outperformed retailers in cities and towns without such
campaigns,” said Oren Teicher, chief operating officer of the American
Booksellers Association. “In the midst of a steep economic downturn,
independent businesses have shown great resilience. Given the results
of this survey, it’s not a surprise that an overwhelming majority of
shoppers are telling independents that the fact that they are locally
owned matters a great deal to them.”
“This invaluable data is proving the case that communities are rallying
behind independent businesses – and a strong reminder that these
entrepreneurs are the bedrock of a local living economy,” said Doug
Hammond, executive director of the Business Alliance for Local Living
“Since the economic downturn began, we’ve seen an explosion of interest
in communities looking to start Independent Business Alliances and buy
local campaigns,” said Jennifer Rockne, director of the American
Independent Business Alliance. “This survey shows such interest is
justified. These campaigns are making a huge difference for local
businesses and their communities.”
“Even as household budgets shrink, many people are choosing to direct
more of their spending to local businesses,” said Stacy Mitchell, senior
researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which conducted
the study. “This could be a key factor in getting the economy back on
track. Study after study has concluded that locally owned businesses
deliver more jobs and significantly greater economic benefits to their
American Booksellers Association (http://www.bookweb.org)
Contact: Oren Teicher, COO, 914-591-2665, ext. 6611, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Independent Business Alliance (http://www.amiba.net)
Contact: Jennifer Rockne, Director, 406-582-1255, email@example.com
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (http://www.astratoy.org)
Contact: Kathleen McHugh, Executive Director, 312-222-0984,
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Contact: Doug Hammond, Executive Director, 415-255-1108 x100,
Institute for Local Self-Reliance (http://www.ilsr.org)
Contact: Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher, 207-774-6792,