In a new study that may resonate with flea market and swap meet professionals, just over half of small retailers (51 percent) think “buy local” sentiment in the United States is growing. That stands in contrast with the meager 9 percent who do not think that sentiment is growing, while 41 percent said they weren’t sure, according to research released today by American Express, the OPEN Retail Economic Pulse.
“Buying locally is growing,” says David O’Neil, a consultant on marketplaces and the senior director for public markets at the Project for Public Spaces. “Local is the new organic, some people say. People are really caring more about where their food comes from, and farmers markets have benefited enormously from that.” His opinion serves as independent confirmation of the American Express results, since he is not associated with the study or the company.
But what about flea markets, swap meets, and non-food markets? According to O’Neil, there are encouraging signs here too. “It’s not playing out as dynamically at flea markets. I think flea markets are at the beginning of a renaissance. I think they are coming along. Food is a really good way to get people to start thinking locally, and once they do, they can start moving into other areas.”
The American Express research also shows that small retailers are still concerned about the economy; just 38 percent think the economic outlook will improve over the next 12 to 18 months. Men are more likely to believe “buy local” sentiment is growing than women, at 59 percent compared with 47 percent.
The survey was conducted Jan. 13 through Jan. 20, 2011. For more details, check out the full American Express OPEN Retail Economic Pulse survey.
Photo credits, with thanks: David O’Neil and American Express.