Preservation Buffalo Niagara would like to take this Amazon Prime Day to acknowledge and uplift the importance of shopping local, and the negative impact Amazon has uniquely had on traditional main street community development.
According to studies conducted by Civic Economics, for every one dollar spent at local independent businesses, three times as much is then re-spent, versus shopping at non-local businesses. Shopping local creates new jobs, has less of a carbon footprint, donates more to local non-profits, and builds a stronger, more sustainable and resilient economy and community. For us here at Preservation Buffalo Niagara, all these benefits are important, but crucially we also highlight the importance of local businesses to defining the unique character and identity of our region, and in preserving our historic architecture.
Amazon’s business practices undermine all these benefits and makes it increasingly difficult for small independent local businesses to maintain a profit. This is more than simply competition – small local independent businesses have competed with larger “big box” chain stores for decades, and still managed to thrive.
Extensive research conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance highlights how Amazon has an increasingly large stranglehold on the US economy, how it has operated uniquely to smother competition not only from independent small local businesses but also large corporate chains1, and how it has further cornered the market amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2020, the US House Judiciary Committee found that Amazon has monopoly power, has engaged in extensive anticompetitive conduct, and that half of all online shopping is now conducted on Amazon.
ILSR has further found that Amazon’s business practices “severs the longstanding link between commerce and place, is directly threatening cities with vacancies, job losses, and revenue shortfalls… at the same time, Amazon is corroding values that are more abstract, but equally critical, including street life, civic engagement, and social capital.”
With all this in mind, PBN encourages all our members to reconsider before participating in Amazon Prime Day, and instead visit a local independent small business, or write a letter to your representatives – with as much of the market as Amazon presently has cornered, public policy interventions will be required for a power shift towards a more competitive market that gives independent small businesses a fair playing field.
With Amazon now capturing half of all online sales, we also recognize that until policy interventions are implemented, some of us find it difficult to cut Amazon completely out of our lives, so if you are going to continue to use Amazon services, we ask that you name PBN as your Amazon Smile charity, so that we can continue to do our work to support the places where local businesses thrive.