The results of the 2013 National Independent Business Survey are in – and with great news for small businesses nationwide. After surveying more than 2,600 independent businesses nationwide, the Advocates for Independent Business and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance have noted another year of remarkable growth for small businesses, as well as specific challenges for the year ahead.
1. Sales Are Up
Of the small/independent businesses surveyed, 63 percent reported sales growth in 2013, with an average growth of 5.3 percent. Small businesses also experienced an average 1.4 percent of growth in holiday sales, an amount comparable to – and in some cases even superior to – national chains.
2. Buy Local Programs Work
Small businesses in cities with active ‘buy local’ campaigns reported sales growth of 7 percent on average, while businesses in communities without buy local campaigns reported an average growth of just 2.3 percent. Overall, more than 75 percent of small businesses located in cities with ‘buy local’ movements reported increased customer traffic, increased media coverage, and other benefits from these programs. Of the businesses located near a ‘buy local’ campaign, those that were more active in the campaign reported greater impact than those that were less active.
Small business owners and ‘buy local’ advocates alike celebrated the findings of the report. “This data confirms what we experience assisting communities with ‘buy local and independent’ campaigns — they are raising consciousness and driving more business to local independents,” said Jeff Milchen, co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance. “The data is inspiring and suggests the future will be bright for America’s entrepreneurs once we change policies that handicap independent businesses.”
3. Challenges Remain
Although the report reflects the great success that small businesses and the ‘buy local’ movement have seen over the past year, it also points out important challenges that small businesses still face.
Small businesses ranked competition from large Internet companies as their biggest challenge, thanks in large part to tax laws that don’t require online retailers to collect sales tax. In fact, 41 percent of businesses say that the sales tax gap has “significantly” hurt their sales. Other challenges for independent business owners include supplier pricing that favors large businesses, high costs for health insurance, and the high cost of marketing a business.
Independent businesses are sure to face challenges long into the future, but the growth of the ‘buy local’ movement suggests that those challenges can one day be marginalized. For now, small business owners and buy local supporters can rest easy knowing that 2013 was yet another year of growth in the small business sector.
Do your part to help spread the message of the buy local movement. As a consumer, take the pledge to buy local and commit to improving your community’s economic well being. If you own an independent business, become a member of Independent We Stand and take advantage of the free resources to promote your small business.
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