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The Power of Local

YES! Magazine - The 2009 holiday season was a tough one for retail businesses. In November, their sales increased just 1.8 percent over low 2008 numbers-failing to keep pace with inflation. December was worse, with sales actually falling three tenths of a percent from 2008.

But in more than a hundred communities across North America, independent community-based businesses had a more positive story to tell. A nationwide survey of more than 1,800 independent businesses by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) found them outperforming chain competitors. Most notably, the survey found independent retailers in communities with active "Buy Independent" or "Buy Local" campaigns reported an increase in holiday sales three times stronger (up three percent) than those in cities without such campaigns (up one percent).

Given the current inflation rate of 2.7 percent, the benefit of such campaigns could mean the difference between success and failure for many store owners. "Amid the worst downturn in more than 60 years, independent businesses are succeeding by emphasizing their community roots and local ownership,” says Stacy Mitchell, who executed the survey.

Jennifer Rockne directs the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), a nonprofit organization supporting 70 "Independent Business Alliances" across North America. She concurs with Mitchell, saying “When executed well, these campaigns are making a huge difference for local businesses and their communities." Read more.

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