The Institute of Local Self-Reliance’s (ILSR) 2011 Independent Business Survey finds that independent businesses “located in communities that have an active ‘buy local’ campaign operated by a local business organization, such as an Independent Business Alliance or a Local First group, experienced markedly strong revenue growth in 2010 compared to those in areas without such an initiative,” according to the report. View their press release.
A few significant findings in the report include;
*** “Independent businesses in places with a ‘buy local’ initiative...reported an average gain in revenues of 5.6%, compared to 2.1% for those elsewhere.”
*** “[During the 2010 holidays], those in cities with active ‘buy local’ initiatives [reported] significantly higher sales gains on average than those in cities without such an initiative.”
*** “Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that public awareness of the benefits of supporting locally owned businesses had increased in the last year, while 25% said it had stayed the same and only 3% said it had decreased.”
Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, responded to the survey’s result in the Huffington Post. Although the survey doesn’t expressly say it, Milchen notices that “the campaigns measured by this survey are all part of ongoing community coalitions affiliated with the American Independent Business Alliance and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies,” he says. However, he mentions why ILSR survey conductor Stacy Mitchell is “skeptical” of how much they actually impacted the survey results.
"These campaigns don't resonate with people. According to our survey, what's motivating people to change their buying habits is desire to support locally owned, independent businesses and wrest control of their economies away from big corporations. Slapping a 'buy local' sticker on a Walmart doesn't work," says Mitchell.
However, Milchen argues that the alliances accomplish more than just sticker slapping. He thinks that “strong correlation in each of the survey’s four years offers strong evidence that well-designed campaigns do shift local culture.” He also cites another recent study on independent businesses that might interest the Center for 21st Century Communities’ (21c3) readers. Research firm Civic Economics recently ranked the country’s 363 major metropolitan areas in their Indie City Index.
The Independent Business Survey has generated interesting discourse on the best ways to promote ‘buying local’ to consumers, and it sheds light on the positive impact that ‘buy local’ initiatives have had across the country.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info.