Small Business, Big Impact: Small Retailers’ Local Contributions

Small independent businesses play an undeniable role in contributing to Canadian economies, including by adding to the vibrancy of the local areas they operate in. They provide employment opportunities, unique products, and personalized services and experiences that foster a sense of community connection.

Unfortunately, these businesses face many significant challenges when 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. It also discusses the challenges they face with regard to competition and consumer misconceptions.

Key takeaways

  • When a consumer makes a purchase from a small Canadian retail business, 66 cents of every dollar stay within the local provincial economy.
  • Multinational businesses with physical locations in Canada recirculate only 11 cents of every dollar into local economies, and only 8 cents stay local when Canadians buy from online giants.
  • Despite consumers saying they value small businesses and their local contributions, nearly 9 in 10 spend more at big businesses than at independent retailers.
  • When it comes to small independent retailers:
    • Most (84%) believe larger corporations receive preferential treatment from government, and three in four (78%) are losing customers and revenues to their big business competition.
    • Nearly all (97%) contribute to their local communities, many in more ways than one.