'Buy local' campaigns work, merchants say


For the second consecutive year, a local merchants' association is celebrating the results of a national survey indicating that independent sellers are outperforming chain retailers.

The survey, conducted by Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, found that holiday sales were up by an average of 2.2 percent in 2009 for the 1,800 independent businesses polled. Meanwhile, U.S. Chamber of Commerce figures showed a 1.8 percent increase in overall retail sales in November, and a 0.3 percent decline in December.

The survey also found that merchants in cities with "buy local" campaigns reported a 3 percent increase in sales, while those in cities without such a campaign reported only a 1 percent increase.

"Since the economic downturn began, we've seen increased interest from local business owners in joining our 'shop local' campaign," said Clark Kepler, owner of Kepler's bookstore and president of Hometown Peninsula, in a press release. "This survey shows such interest is justified."

"I think the poor economy played a big role in my customers intentionally shopping locally," said Dexter Chow, co-owner of Cheeky Monkey Toys, in the same press release. "They felt strongly that shopping locally was good for their community and good for them."

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