Local First and Economic Impact Studies
From studies that demonstrate the economic impact of independent retailers, to the powerful message of the IndieBound movement and networking with like-minded organizations, ABA is working to strengthen awareness about the crucial role independent retailers play in local economies and communities.
The ABA and booksellers nationwide are working to raise awareness of the importance of shopping local first so that independent businesses survive and thrive, and communities are enriched and sustained. The message to consumers is this: Why shop at a locally owned business first? Because far more of the money spent at local businesses is reinvested in your community. This helps other local businesses, which creates greater diversity and helps the community maintain its unique appeal. Shopping local is environmentally friendly, too: it creates less traffic and pollution. The consumer website IndieBound.org focuses on local first and shopping indie bookstores.
Show Local First Resources
- IndieBound–ABA’s local first marketing movement provides resources to stores and consumers to support indie bookstores and promote localism.
- Civic Economics–The economic analysis and strategic planning group Civic Economics is conducting surveys in several American communities to provide localized versions of the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics. Contact the firm directly to inquire about openings in the study.
- The Institute for Local Self-Reliance–Nonprofit research and educational organization that provides technical assistance and information on environmentally sound economic policies. ILSR is dedicated to strengthening communicates by rebuilding independent businesses.
- A Declaration of Independents pamphlet–By ILSR researcher Stacy Mitchell, author of The Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Businesses on the importance of supporting indies. This is designed to be printed on two sheets of paper, double-sided, to form an eight-page pamphlet. (pdf)
- The Big Box Toolkit: Countering Mega-Retailers–An online resource for citizens groups working to stop sprawling big-box development, change their community's land use and economic development policies, and expand locally owned businesses.
- The New Rules Project–A program of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the New Rules Project started back in 1998 and continues to bring fresh new policy solutions to communities and states to ensure that they are "designing rules as if community matters".
- Startup Packet from the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA)–A checklist for founding and launching an Independent Business Alliance.
- Local First Campaign Resources from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)–BALLE is an alliance of businesspeople dedicated to building local living economies. View videos and other resources for Local First efforts.
- Small Business Saturday–American Express’ Small Business Saturday has established itself as the preeminent national holiday promotion for Main Street businesses, and it is generating substantial national and local advertising that encourages consumers to support their locally owned businesses.
Economic Impact Studies
Since 2002, a number of studies have repeatedly documented the positive economic impact of locally owned businesses, and their significantly greater economic return to the local economy than that of retail chains, big box stores, and, especially regarding sales tax, remote online retailers. Independent booksellers have often been the driving force behind these efforts, which have resulted in favorable public policy for indies and heightened consumer awareness of the issues.
Amazon & Empty Storefronts: The Fiscal and Land Use Impacts of Online Retail (2016)
A study from Civic Economics which details the overall negative impact that Amazon has had on Main Street retailers and jobs, and the communities in which they are located, across the country. ABA has prepared the New Localism Toolkit with resources for member bookstores based on data from the Amazon study.
Independent Business Owners Report Growing Public Support (2014)
A national survey of independent business owners conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in partnership with the Advocates for Independent Business coalition has found that Local First initiatives are boosting customer traffic and improving the outlook on Main Street, but policymakers need to do more to create a level playing field and ensure that small local businesses have an equal opportunity to compete.
Survey Confirms Benefits of “Buy Local First” Campaigns, Finds Challenges Ahead (2013)
The 2013 post-holiday Independent Business Survey, conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) in partnership with the American Booksellers Association and other indie business organizations, has found that independent businesses experienced solid revenue growth in 2012, buoyed in part by “buy local first” initiatives and growing public interest in supporting locally owned businesses.
Indie Impact National Summary: Indies Give Back Over Three Times as Much as Chains (2013)
Communities as different as Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Louisville, Kentucky, have at least one thing in common: Their independent businesses recirculate a substantially greater proportion of their revenues back into the local economy than do their chain competitors. This, according to a national study, The Indie Impact Study Series: National Summary Report, a summary of 10 localized studies conducted by Civic Economics.
Choosing a locally owned store generates almost four times as much economic benefit for the surrounding region as shopping at a chain, a new study has concluded. The study by research firm Civic Economics found that the local retailers return an average of 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared with just 14 percent for the chain retailers.
National Survey Shows Power of Buy Local Campaigns (2010)
Once again, a national survey has demonstrated the power indie businesses -- and of an active "Buy Local" or "Think Local Campaign." A survey of more than 1,800 indie businesses found that holiday sales for independent retailers were up an average of 2.2 percent, in contrast to figures showing that overall retail sales were down 0.3 percent in December 2009.
Independents Outperform Chains over Holidays, Survey Finds (2009)
A survey conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance shows that indies outperformed chains over Holiday 2008, and indies in cities with active Shop Local campaigns did even better.
Grand Rapids Study Shows Shift to Indies Has Big Impact (2008)
A new study from Local First of Grand Rapids, Michigan, reveals that a modest change in consumer behavior -- a 10 percent shift in market share to independent businesses from chain stores -- would result in 1,600 new jobs, $53 million in wages, and a $137 million economic impact to the area.
Procurement Matters: The Economic Impact of Local Suppliers (2007)
A Civic Economics study commissioned by Local First Arizona reveals that public procurement from a local supplier generates "dramatically greater local economic activity" than procurement from a chain business.
The San Francisco Retail Diversity Study (2007)
Civic Economics conducted this study on the health, diversity, and economic impact of independent merchants in San Francisco for the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance, with oversight by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association.
The Andersonville Study of Retail Economics (2004)
A 2004 report by Civic Economics, which compares 10 local businesses in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago versus their chain competitors, demonstrates the greater economic impact of locally owned businesses.
Economic Impact Analysis: A Case Study – Local Merchants vs. Retail Chains (2002)
December 2002 report, prepared for Liveable City by Civic Economics, assessing the impact of local merchants, specifically Austin, Texas’ BookPeople and Waterloo Records, relative to the impact of chain stores.