Australia’s shopkeeper economy worth billions: report

21-Nov-2016 9:00 AM

New research from American Express in support of Shop Small month suggests that small businesses might be their own best customers, with $204 billion flowing between businesses every year.

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The Economy of Shopping Small: Custom Counts report revealed small Australian businesses sourced goods and services from 4.4 other small suppliers each month, spending an average of $8,600 in a typical month or $104,000 annually.  A quarter of these businesses (24%) spent more than $10,000 and 10% spent more than $20,000 each month.

The shopkeeper economy is a key driver in contributing to the economic health of small business communities and has helped increased the number of businesses in local areas. Some 24% said the arrival of new businesses had made it easier to locally source products and services, a third (32%) said it has increased customer footfall and 31% said it had increased profits.

Encouragingly 26% of small businesses say they would definitely like to collaborate more than they currently do and 58% say they may be open to greater collaboration.

Melanie Cochrane, Senior Vice President, Small Merchant, Global Merchant Services, American Express said such close collaboration was essential to broader geographic economic health.

“If small businesses can find smart strategies to leverage each other’s products, expertise and customers they’re immediately multiplying what they could achieve alone,” Cochrane said.

“We all benefit if we can produce more precinct powerhouses – small businesses connecting and collaborating across our communities   Small businesses make a very real and important difference to their SMB community through their custom and supplier relationships.  

“It's vital that, while we encourage consumers to shop small, we also encourage and recognise merchants that champion other small businesses both locally and further afield.  Behaviour like this is paramount to maintain the colour and diversity of our high streets and preserve our corner stores for generations to come.

The findings come despite a perceived downturn in support from local consumers. The Economy of Shopping Small: Custom Counts report found more than half of shop owners (53%) said customers are becoming less loyal, while 61% felt customers were becoming less polite too. Three-quarters (72%) of business owners stated they wished locals knew how hard it was to run a small business.

Protecting Australia’s national spirit

To celebrate Australia’s small businesses community and its valuable contribution to the national economy, American Express commissioned cultural archivist and photographer, Eamon Donnelly, to embark on a road trip across the country to capture the faces and stories of some of the great Australian small businesses.

The images will be showcased on various channels throughout November including the American Express Facebook page.

To encourage Card Members to shop in small businesses throughout November, American Express will provide a $10 statement credit to those who have registered their cards in the Shop Small promotion. Card Members will receive the credit each time they spend $20 or more in participating businesses – up to 10 times.

To participate in Shop Small simply shop at your local business in November. To learn more ways to show your support visit


About Shop Small

Shop Small is a nationwide movement that brings together support from the business community, governments and consumers to support small businesses. Shop Small begins on 31 October 2016 and runs until the end of November. Consumers and businesses should visit for more information on the program and its benefits.

Shop Small is founded by American Express. #ShopSmallAU

Download a copy of The Economy of Shopping Small: Custom Counts report here

Like American Express Australia on Facebook here

Follow us on Twitter here


For more information or to organise an interview, please contact:

Lauren Emmett                                                                             Patrice Calopedos

N2N Communications                                                                 N2N Communications

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P: 02 9213 2304                                                                            P: 02 9213 2301

M: 0451 049 829                                                                           M: 0404 950 634


About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.  Learn more at and connect with us on or by visiting our Media Room. Key links to products and services: charge and credit cardstravel services, foreign exchange, prepaid travel cardsmerchant servicesbusiness travel, and corporate card.


The 2016 Custom Counts research was commissioned by American Express and undertaken by our research partner RFi Group, a global intelligence and digital media provider focusing exclusively on financial services.

In order to understand the current trading environment for Australia’s small business, researchers focused on recruiting respondents from five selected industries from ANZSIC categorisation:  Retail, Hospitality, Travel, Professional services and Healthcare services. Each individual participant had to be:

  • A small business owner and current key decision maker;
  • In charge of the business for 6+ months;
  • Leading 1 to 20 employees (excluding themselves);
  • In an organisation which was not solely online; and which also had private consumer customers as well as B2B trade.





Topic: Retail

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