While most independent retailers say the growth of Amazon is negatively affecting their businesses, a large share also report being better positioned than many national chains to weather the seismic shifts underway in the retail industry.
A new national survey of independent retailers finds that shifts in the retail sector are playing out differently for independents than they are for chains.
Click on the image to download the full report.
The survey, which was conducted by Advocates for Independent Business, gathered data from over 850 independent retailers in 49 U.S. states. Their responses yield valuable insight into how independent businesses are responding to the changing landscape — and about how they perceive the way their distinct attributes set them apart from retail chains and from Amazon.
The survey comes as national chains are declaring bankruptcy, malls are going dark, and e-commerce continues to grow. Headlines have started referring to a “historic tipping point” for American retail. Reporting on the issue, however, has focused almost exclusively on national chains.
The survey’s findings include:
• Two-thirds of survey respondents report that, despite their smaller size, they have been able to respond to shifts in their sector as well as or better than national chains have.
• Independent retailers identify distinct characteristics that they say give independents an advantage over chains as the retail landscape changes. Survey respondents cite four qualities as especially important: Personalized service, connection with community, product expertise, and ability to create experiences.
• 83% report that there have been chain store closures in their area that have left behind vacant spaces, and 17% describe the extent of these closures as “significant.” A majority of survey respondents — 51% — report that they see opportunities for independents in widespread chain store closures.
• While respondents believe that independents are better positioned to survive Amazon’s growth, 90% of respondents also report that Amazon is having a negative impact on their business.
• Despite the ways that these shifts are poised to impact local economies, only 9% of survey respondents say that there has been “a lot” of discussion and coverage of the issue locally, and 43% say that there’s been “very little” or “none.”
The survey report also includes vivid comments from independent business owners that capture their experiences in their own words. Advocates for Independent Business is available to connect reporters with nearby independent business owners for interviews about how they’re seeing these issues play out in their businesses and communities. READ MORE.