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New Survey: Independent Businesses See Major Threats in Amazon, Corporate Concentration

ILSR  |   August 6, 2019

The results of our 2019 Independent Business Survey demonstrate the strength and resiliency of small, independent businesses. They also speak to the forces independents see as significant threats and roadblocks to their businesses: a playing field made uneven by policies that favor their bigger competitors, highly concentrated markets for key supplies and services, and difficulty securing capital, among other barriers.

Among other findings, our survey shows that:
  • Independent retailers overwhelmingly ranked Amazon’s market power as the top threat to their businesses, and only 11 percent of those selling on Amazon’s Marketplace described their experience as successful.
  • 40 percent of retailers and 30 percent of manufacturers said there has been a significant merger in their industry in the last five years.
  • 52 percent of independent retailers in cities reported that commercial rents have been rising faster than their sales.
This survey sheds light on these barriers and offers insights to elected officials looking to spur entrepreneurship and build a more equitable, competitive, and dynamic economy.

See more findings and download the full report here.


Join Our Team!

ILSR  |   August 6, 2019

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is looking for a Senior Editor to join a small team within ILSR focused on checking the power of monopolies, winning changes in federal antitrust policy, and leveling the playing field for local businesses. This position can be based in Washington, D.C., or Portland, Maine.

Read the full job description and application instructions here.


  • ILSR researcher Zach Freed explained in VICE how Amazon Prime changes the way consumers shop, putting other businesses at a "structural disadvantage.”  
  • Stacy Mitchell appeared on The Zero Hour to talk about whether Congress will fight monopoly power.
  • Our dollar store research was featured in Pacific Standard, in a piece about the chains and the communities fighting for healthy local grocery options.


Stacy Mitchell testified before the United States House Judiciary Committee at a hearing about the monopoly power of dominant tech platforms. Read Stacy's testimony, and watch the full hearing here



  • The European Union has opened an antitrust investigation into Amazon. The E.U. is looking specifically at Amazon’s “dual role” as both a marketplace platform and as a seller on that platform.
  • Meanwhile, Amazon’s come up with a catch-22 to snare independent brands. The tech giant is offering better positions in search results and other perks to sellers — provided they sign a deal allowing Amazon to buy their brand for $10,000 whenever it wants to.
  • David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the House Antitrust Subcommittee chairman, wasn’t happy with some of the answers he received from Amazon’s representative in a hearing earlier this month. The congressman found a number of the responses “evasive, incomplete, or misleading." He’s since followed up with a letter asking for clear, yes-or-no answers.
  • Residents in Prince George’s County, Md., see through Amazon’s plans to locate a large logistics center in their neighborhood. One resident noted that “…businesses tend to put their industrial locations in black communities. They tend to put their corporate facilities in other locations that don’t look like this room right here.”
  • A tiny North Dakota town’s Job Development Authority has purchased the local grocery store, and the store’s manager is taking the job seriously. “It’s been proven that if a town loses a grocery store, the town dies.”
  • Dollar store legislation is heating up in large American cities. In Birmingham, Ala., the City Council approved a zoning law change which restricts the spread of the stores. Cleveland, OhioFort Worth, Texas, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, residents are looking to stop the saturation by other legal means.
  • A staggering 80 percent of all major retail bankruptcies this year have involved chains bought and raided by private equity firms. A new study tallies the job losses, finding that private equity is responsible for 1.3 million people, mostly women, losing their jobs in retail over the past decade.
  • Calling private equity “legalized looting,” Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put forward a proposal that would totally revamp the way these firms are allowed to operate.
  • Under New York City’s Pharmacy to Farm program, independent pharmacies are giving low-income residents with high blood pressure $30 vouchers to spend at nearby farmers markets. “Nesting programs [within independent pharmacies] is a nice way to support their business model.”

From informing policymakers to shaping media coverage, ILSR's research is
making an impact. Please help us work to create an economy that's more
competitive, equitable, and prosperous by making a donation today.

Copyright © 2019 Institute for Local Self-Reliance, All rights reserved.

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