When consumers think of shopping centers, they often picture the big box retailers, the grocery chains and the brand-names that garner headlines and have become household names over decades. But the engine that continues to power the American economy and helps create vibrant, successful communities is small businesses.
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As the retail landscape continues to evolve, it’s essential to celebrate Small Business Week every week.
Small businesses create two out of every three net new private-sector jobs. Since the Great Recession, these businesses have created over eight million jobs alone while meeting the needs of Americans in our largest cities and our smallest towns. Small businesses also generate billions of tax dollars that fund critical infrastructure and services, from fire departments to schools and parks.
In addition to housing retailers, brick-and-mortar hubs are home to small businesses that offer crucial services including doctors, dentists, tax professionals and institutions of higher learning. Almost one-quarter of shopping center tenants are in non-retail or non-restaurant industries, according to CoStar Realty Information. Further, small or rural communities often lack large businesses, making the role of the small business in stimulating the economy and providing jobs critical.
Like many industries, retail and retail real estate are navigating a rapidly-changing economy – but contrary to the doom-and-gloom narrative spun by much of the media, the physical store remains a cornerstone of shopping in America, and these stores are often small businesses. According to our research, 96 percent of American adults shop at the small businesses in their local shopping centers. This is not an accident. It is a result of endless innovation as agile and dynamic businesses meet the changing demands of the contemporary consumer.
Appropriately, several recent state and federal policy changes have continued to help small businesses thrive. The recent South Dakota v. Wayfair decision, for example, remedied decades of unfair tax policy that penalized small businesses for having a physical presence – so essential to our communities – but allowed online sellers to pay little or nothing in state sales tax.
Most states have followed the “South Dakota model” to tax online sales, leveling the playing field while raising crucial revenue and ensuring markets remain fair, open and responsive to consumer needs. These developments show that policymakers, consumers and business owners alike recognize the importance of small businesses and their invaluable contributions to our communities and our economy.
Seventy percent of retailers have fewer than 10 employees. Whether it’s your town sporting goods store sponsoring a little league team or the children’s clothier that always has the perfect dress – these small business retailers are central to the social and economic vibrancy of communities across the country. And they play a large role in the innovation that makes America’s economy so dynamic.
Tom McGee is the president and chief executive officer of the International Council of Shopping Centers.