Shop Small
American Express is encouraging Australians to shop small.


New research has revealed that despite deep affection for Australia’s small business community, consumers are increasingly turning to larger businesses when shopping.

While 78 per cent of consumers said small businesses have had a positive impact on their lives, only 37 per cent increased the number of times they shopped small in the past 12 months. This is compared to 61 per cent who increased visits to large businesses over the same period.

American Express commissioned The Economy of Shopping Small report to support its 2016 Shop Small campaign, which encourages consumers to shop at small businesses throughout November.

This data makes the campaign even more important and Federal Small Business Minister, Michael McCormack, said it makes sense to support small businesses all year round.

shop small
Daly Waters Pub in the Northern Territory is taking part in the Shop Small campaign.


“With more than 2.1 million small businesses employing more than five million Australians, the sector accounts for 97 per cent of all Australian businesses,” he said. “Each day every Australian should ask ourselves what we can get from our local stores or the latest online boutique.

“There’s no better time than Shop Small month to start that movement, making our intentions and support crystal clear, particularly as the retail sector picks up in the lead in to Christmas.”

Retail expert Brian Walker has also added his support to the campaign. “It’s great to see such support year on year for the contribution small businesses make, but it’s not enough to simply get behind them [in November],” he said. “We have to use them week after week after week.”

Must turn affection into action

In order to keep small business alive and well, American Express VP small merchant global services, Katrina Konstas, said Australians need to convert their affection for small business into action.

“This year’s research unveils a ‘custom conundrum’ in how Australians view and engage with small businesses—we acknowledge that we’ll miss small businesses when they’re gone, but we don’t always see them when they’re there,” she said.

It is also important for consumers to remember that small businesses aren’t all bricks and mortar stores but include digital start-ups and online boutiques, explained Konstas.

“We all have a stake in their success, whether it’s preserving a sense of community or providing a family member or friend with employment. Investing in their future is investing in your own and Australia’s, whether you want to run your own small business, work in one, or shop at many.”

Shop Small
American Express is encouraging Australians to shop small during November.


Perception problem

It seems there is a perception problem for small business, with a majority of those surveyed stating they believed more small businesses were closing than opening. In fact 83 per cent of consumers believe small businesses are not lasting as long compared to a decade ago, while 71 per cent said there appear to be fewer small businesses.

This is despite the small business sector’s actual performance, with the report revealing 85 per cent of businesses are in a better or similar financial position than last year. One in five Australians are also actively planning to set up a small business.

Small business owners happy

It’s not all doom and gloom for small business. The report found that 83 per cent of small business owners are satisfied, with only 10 per cent stating they wouldn’t go into business again. An even smaller number (8 per cent) said running a small business hasn’t lived up to their expectations.

In order to stay relevant, Konstas said small businesses need to adapt to the changing retail environment and be aware of the threat that large national retailers represent.

“They have undermined some of the traditional strengths of small businesses, such as convenience and location, and it’s critical that consumers continue to shop small for this sector to prosper.”