In 2023 we worked with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and our buy local partners across BC to assess the impact of independent retailers, in the first pan-Canadian study of the impact of local business.
Small and local retailers make important contributions to their communities, and to provincial and Canadian economies.. They add to the vibrancy of the local areas they operate in, provide employment, buy local goods and services, and support local causes, organizations, teams and events. Unfortunately, they face many challenges competing with big, multinational retailers and online giants, and in dealing with consumers undervaluing the significant economic benefits of shopping small. This report analyzes how Canadian small businesses in the retail sector make direct financial contributions to their local economies and how these contributions set them apart from multinational retailers and online giants.
- On average in Canada, purchases from Canadian owned retail businesses recirculate 66 cents of every dollar within the provincial economy where they are based, compared with only 11 cents of every dollar for multinationals with physical locations in Canada, and only 8 cents for every dollar for online giants.
- The average recirculation for independent retailers has been determined for each Canadian province. It ranges from a low of 59 cents per dollar in Quebec, to a high of 70 cents per dollar in Ontario. The average in BC is 66 cents per dollar, the same as the Canadian average.
- Consumers underestimate the recirculation impact of independent businesses (by almost 2X), overestimate the recirculation impact of multinational retailers with brick and mortar locations (by more than 3X), and overestimate the recirculation impact of online giants (by more than 2X).
- Nearly all (97%) of independent retailers contribute to their communities in some way, 3/4 donate cash, goods/services or time to local causes, and more than 1/2 support local organizations, teams, and events.
- 55% of consumers say they shop more now at large retailers than they did 5 years ago. 84% say they would like to do more of their shopping at independent businesses, and 4 in 5 report that consumers should do what they can to support small businesses.