Survey Shows Big Gains for Independent Businesses Served by Groups Like LIBA
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 20, 2016) – A survey of independent business owners yielded powerful evidence that pro-local attitudes are growing, driving customer traffic and indicates the educational work of the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) and more than one hundred similarly-organized groups are yielding large benefits for their members and local economy. The annual survey by the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) tallied responses from 3,259 independent businesses. Just under half were retailers while service providers, manufacturers, farmers, banks, restaurants, wholesalers, and others comprised smaller portions.
Among the notable results:
Independent businesses in communities with an active “buy independent/buy local” campaign run by grassroots groups like LIBA saw revenues grow 7.4% in 2015, – 43% more than the 4.2% increase for businesses in areas without such an alliance.
Despite increasing online sales, independent retailers surveyed experienced a 3.1% increase in holiday sales, beating many competing chains who reported an average 1.6% growth in the 4th quarter.
Two-thirds of respondents in communities with grassroots groups like LIBA indicated the group is having a noticeable positive impact on their business.
About one-third of businesses with a grassroots group like LIBA indicated their participation had led them to become more engaged in advocating on public policy issues. 44% said the group had raised the awareness and support of independent businesses by elected officials.
Highlights of Louisville-specific results from the survey:
72% of businesses agreed that LIBA’s Buy Local First campaign has positively impacted their business
61% reported an increase in overall sales in 2015
61% of respondents think that public awareness of the benefits of supporting locally owned businesses has increased in the last year.
Almost half said the campaign is a core part of their marketing and they work to promote it.
The survey also assessed major concerns of independent business owners, indicating:
Among retailers, 70% said competition from large internet companies was a “very significant” challenge facing their business.
For independent businesses which applied for bank loans within the past two years, 32% were denied. Of young businesses, 41% were denied, and for businesses owned by people of color, that number is 54%.
Among Louisville survey respondents, competition from large internet companies was their top concern (46%), with difficulty finding qualified employees (38%) and competition from large brick and mortar chains (35%) following.
“While 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.”
“With close to 850 members, LIBA will be capitalizing on the strength we have in our numbers,” says Jennifer Rubenstein, Executive Director of LIBA. “Our grassroots campaigns continue to gain strength and momentum as more and more citizens and businesses realize the importance of the Buy Local message.”
The full 2016 ILSR report (pdf) may be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/1Q9dVkc ###.
The graph below summarizes one of the key findings from the report over the past three years that is perhaps the single most useful data for AMIBA affiliates. Other graphics available on request.
About the Louisville Independent Business Alliance
LIBA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the unique community character of the Metro Louisville area by promoting locally-owned businesses and to educate citizens on the value of buying locally. For more information about LIBA, visit www.keeplouisvilleweird.com.