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Utah Study Series

New statewide economic data shows local businesses return over 4x more to the Utah economy than chain retailers

Spending just 10% more to local businesses would keep approximately $1.3 billion in the Utah economy each year

Local First Utah has released a new analysis of a statewide study series by Civic Economics detailing the amount of revenue returned to the local economy by locally owned, independent businesses.  Collectively, studies implemented in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Wayne County show that locally owned retailers return 55.3% of their revenue to the local economy. For comparison purposes, national chain retailers return just 13.6% of revenue. That means every dollar spent at a locally owned, independent business returns more than four times more to the local economy than a dollar spent at a national chain retailer.

The study also compiled data from restaurants. Utah-owned eateries collectively return 69.1% of their revenue to the local economy. National chain restaurants return just 30.4 %, meaning a dollar spent enjoying a meal at a locally owned restaurant more than doubles the return to the local economy when compared to a dollar spent at a chain restaurant.

The study concluded that shifting just 10% of purchases from national chains to locally owned retailers and restaurants would keep $1.3 billion in the Utah economy – money that currently leaves the state quietly in nightly deposits to be spent elsewhere. 

“The extra dollars in the local economy produce more jobs for residents, extra tax revenues for local governments, more investment in commercial and residential districts, and enhanced support for local nonprofits. In short, local businesses create better places.” said Daniel Houston, Partner at Civic Economics.

The complied Utah study results are being released during Independents Week, July 1-7, a celebration of the value and vitality of independent businesses to our communities. The mayors of Salt Lake City, Sandy, Gunnison City, Moab, West Valley City, Ogden, and Salt Lake County are issuing official proclamations acknowledging the contributions of locally owned businesses to their communities. Also in celebration of the week, more than 50 businesses statewide are giving away free bumper stickers for locally committed shoppers with the declaration “I Buy Local First.”

“The money that local businesses return at four times the rate of chains is just one of many reasons to truly celebrate our independent business owners and operators – we also celebrate their courage and authenticity, and the way in which they help keep Utah unique,” said Nan Seymour, Executive Director of Local First Utah. “We can all do more to support our neighbors in their brave business endeavors, remembering that dollars spent here locally are reinvested in our own communities.”

The Civic Economics analysis looked at detailed financial reports from 27 retailers and 17 restaurateurs from across the state. Although similar studies have been conducted in Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, Grand Rapids, and New Orleans, this is the first statewide compilation representing the economic impact of both urban and rural locally owned businesses. 

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