Independent businesses gained healthy sales growth in 2015, thanks to increased public awareness of the benefits of supporting locally owned businesses, according to a national report released by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Advocates for Independent Business.
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The Independent Business Survey, now in its ninth year, gathered data from over 3,200 independent businesses -- including 83 businesses from the Monadnock Region.
The survey found that in 2015 independent businesses:
- Grew an average of 6.6 percent.
- For independent retailers, revenue increased 4.7 percent, with a 3.1 percent gain during the holiday season (compared to retail chains with a 1.6 percent increase in holiday sales).
- Overall employment rose 5.6 percent.
- Over 30 percent reported adding at least one employee.
- Communities with an active Local First/Buy Local campaign saw a 7.4 percent increase in revenue, compared to a 4.2% increase for businesses without an active group.
- Over 67 percent said that active Local First/Buy Local campaigns in their area led to new customers and increased loyalty.
In terms of obstacles, the survey notes that independent businesses struggle most with:
"While these obstacles are certainly formidable, independent businesses have seen a remarkable increase in public awareness and support in recent years," said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "In our survey, many expressed a determination to build on the momentum of the 'buy local' movement to press for policies that will give small, local businesses a better opportunity to compete and thrive."
- Competition from large internet companies (70 percent ranked it as very significant obstacle).
- Large competitors' market power to gain better pricing and payment terms from suppliers.
"Despite a number of challenges facing independent businesses, the ninth annual ILSR survey again demonstrates that locally owned Main Street businesses are resilient, growing, and successful," said American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher. "The innovation and hard work of entrepreneurs are paying off in businesses that are outperforming their chain competitors, fueling job creation, and ensuring that unique, livable communities continue to thrive."
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