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New Independent Retail Report Supports Complete Economy Approach

November 17, 2017 5:09 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

While most independent retailers say the growth of Amazon is negatively affecting their businesses, a large share also report being better positioned than many national chains to weather the seismic shifts underway in the retail industry.

A new national survey of independent retailers called Independent Retailers and the Changing Retail Landscape provides essential data needed to elevate discussions around the impacts of online sales on local economies and community wealth in the Monadnock Region and statewide.

In the age of Amazon, cities and towns face the implications of online sales on job growth and tax revenue. The results of this survey suggest that investing in measures that strengthen locally owned businesses could foster a local economy that is more resilient in the face of these upheavals.
 
In the Monadnock Region, potential measures include supporting efforts such as Monadnock Buy Local’s Complete Economy Project. This project calls for the adoption of policies that level the playing field for locally owned businesses, while cultivating a regional economy that works for more people and balances the needs of diverse business types.
 
This survey, conducted by Advocates for Independent Business, gathered data from over 850 independent retailers in 49 U.S. states. Their responses yield valuable insight into how independent businesses are responding to the changing landscape — and how they perceive the way their distinct attributes set them apart from national retail chains and from Amazon.
 
The survey’s findings include:

  • Two-thirds of survey respondents report that, despite their smaller size, they have responded to shifts in their sector as well as or better than national chains have.
  • Independent retailers identify distinct characteristics that they say give independents an advantage over chains as the retail landscape changes. Survey respondents cite four qualities as especially important: Personalized service, connection with community, product expertise and the events and experience they provide in their stores.
  • 83% report that there have seen chain store closures in their area that have left behind vacant spaces, and 17% describe the extent of these closures as “significant.” A majority of survey respondents — 51% — report that they see opportunities for independents in widespread chain store closures.
  • While respondents believe that independents are better positioned to survive Amazon’s growth, 90% of respondents also report that Amazon is having a negative impact on their business.
  • Despite the ways that these shifts are poised to impact local economies, only 9% of survey respondents say that there has been “a lot” of discussion and coverage of the issue locally, and 43% say that there’s been “very little” or “none.”

“These findings provide valuable insights for local officials assessing how best to sustain the economic vitality of their communities,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which conducted the survey on behalf of Advocates for Independent Business. “While many malls and chain stores are going dark, independent retailers are a better bet for the future. Many offer distinct attributes that customers can’t find at Amazon or most chain stores, and they have something more to offer their communities. For these small businesses to thrive though, officials need to do more to ensure they have a level playing field.”

Read the full report 

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