Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete last month’s survey of independent businesses by the Institute for Local Self Reliance. The confidential survey was used to gauge how independent businesses are faring in today’s economy, assess the impact of buy local campaigns like ours, and identify some of the main challenges affecting independent businesses.
The good news? Nationally, independent businesses saw solid revenue growth in 2012. More than two-thirds of businesses saw growth, and the average growth rate was 6.8 percent. Even better? This growth, say the businesses, was due in a large part to efforts from “buy local first” organizations like Portland Buy Local.
Out of the 2377 businesses from all across the country, 52 respondents were Portland, Maine businesses. We are grateful that ILSR was able to track Portland-specific results and report them back to us. Here is what Portland businesses had to say:
71% saw an increase in revenue from 2011 to 2012 (compared with over 66% nationally)
33% of retail businesses saw an increase in holiday sales from 2011-2012
We were very happy to learn that 84% of Portland businesses surveyed felt that Portland Buy Local has a positive impact on their business (significantly positive – 12%, moderately positive – 27%, or a little positive – 45%). 8% saw no impact.
73% of Portland businesses surveyed felt that public awareness of the importance of supporting locally owned businesses had increased in the past year. 0% felt that there had been a decrease. (Nationally, 68% felt there was an increase and 3% felt there was a decrease in the past year.)
45% felt that Portland Buy Local had helped make City officials more aware and supportive of independent business.
One major setback for small businesses on a national level has been the rise in “showrooming,” or the consumer practice of window shopping at local, independent businesses to scope out the desired merchandise, but then purchasing that merchandise at a national chain or online store. In Portland, 63% of businesses felt showrooming was impacting their business. To read more about showrooming and how to counter it, click here.
The other big hurdle for these small business is lack of financing. A whopping 23% of surveyed businesses reported that they were unable to secure a loan for in the last two years. In Portland, that number was 18%.
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