The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Stacy Mitchell, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 207-774-6792
Alissa Barron, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, 240-317-2247
Jennifer Rockne, American Independent Business Alliance, 406-582-1255
Meg Smith, American Booksellers Association, 914-373-6641

Holiday Sales Increase at Independent Businesses, National Survey Finds

"Buy Local" is on the minds of more shoppers.


holiday shoppers deliberately sought out locally owned businesses this
year, according to a national survey of more than 1,800 independent

The survey found that holiday sales for
independent retailers were up an average of 2.2%. That contrasts with
the Commerce Department figures released today, which show that overall
retail sales were down 0.3% in December and up 1.8% in November.

The survey also found that independent retailers in cities with active
"Buy Local" or "Think Local First" campaigns reported stronger holiday
sales than those in cities without such campaigns. These campaigns have
been launched by local business alliances in more than 100 cities and
towns. Independent retailers in these cities reported an average
increase in holiday sales of 3.0%, compared to 1.0% for those in cities
without an active Buy Local initiative.

Nearly 80% of those
surveyed said public awareness of the value of choosing locally owned
businesses had increased in the last year (16% said it had stayed the

"The buzz about buying local was louder among my customers this year than any other year," said a shoe store owner in Michigan.

"We've had many customers say they are making a real effort to 'Buy
Local' this year. A number of customers said they saw an item at a
chain store or online, and came back to us to purchase it," said a
retailer in Maine.

A bookstore owner in Oregon added that
the growing public awareness and support for independent businesses
"has been critical to our ability to stay in business during down
economic times."

The survey was conducted by the Institute
for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit research organization, in
partnership with several business organizations, including the American
Booksellers Association, American Independent Business Alliance,
American Specialty Toy Retailers Association, Business Alliance for
Local Living Economies, and National Bicycle Dealers Association.

Similar surveys in 2009 and 2008 likewise found that independent
businesses in cities with Buy Local campaigns reported stronger sales
than those in communities without such an initiative.

survey adds to the growing body of evidence that people are
increasingly bypassing big business in favor of local entrepreneurs,"
said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local
Self-Reliance. "Amid the worst downtown in more than 60 years,
independent businesses are managing to succeed by emphasizing their
community roots and local ownership."

"These results
reinforce what we've heard from our local affiliates -- that their
campaigns are yielding real dividends and shifting local spending,"
said Jennifer Rockne, director of the American Independent Business
Alliance. "That's good news for their local economies. Studies show
that small businesses keep more dollars circulating locally and
generate the majority of new jobs."

"For the third year in a
row, this study demonstrates the bottom-line impact of local business
alliances running Think Local First campaigns," said Michelle Long,
executive director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.
"Local entrepreneurs are the bedrock of the U.S. economy and, when they
work together, they make our communities more resilient, unique, and
rewarding places to live."

"This survey demonstrates how
important a Buy Local/Local First campaign is in helping independent
businesses achieve greater sales," said American Booksellers
Association CEO Oren Teicher. "This insight about consumers'
preferences is consistent with what we have seen since the launch of
IndieBound in 2008. Shoppers value authenticity, they want to connect
with and to strengthen their communities, and they recognize that
bigger is not always better. Because of that, we believe that this is a
time of great potential for locally owned businesses that are committed
to working together."

Results can be downloaded at

The Institute's mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.