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NGA Leaders Tout Impact of Independents

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Grocers Association here said it is equipped — for the first time ever — with hard data about the size and economic importance of the independent grocery sector, which it said should help to strengthen its voice when talking with legislators, government regulators and suppliers.

“Those of us who are close to the business are not surprised by the significant impact our sector has on the nation’s economy,” Peter J. Larkin, president and chief executive officer of NGA, said. “Now we can showcase our contributions in a more meaningful, factual way.”

The research was conducted on behalf of NGA by John Dunham & Associates, New York.

The study’s findings include the following:

•  The nation’s 20,884 supermarkets owned by independents account for combined annual sales of $129.5 billion — nearly 1% of the total U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

• Independent operators and their employees contribute $13.25 billion in federal taxes, or 1.73% of the total collected.

•  Independents pay more than $30 billion in annual wages to approximately 944,200 employees; and re-spending of those wages creates an additional 569,380 jobs.

A map on NGA’s website allows interested parties to break down the national statistics by state and Congressional district, as well as by state legislature and state senate districts; and to print out one-page summaries that present the information in an identical template for each locale.

“This kind of information, which has never been available before, will strengthen our voice with elected and regulatory officials,” Larkin said, “and well as helping suppliers understand the depth and breadth of this sector.”

Asked in an online press conference on what issues NGA might use the research data, Larkin mentioned three.

“One area would be tax reform, where this information shows what the independents pay and how important they are to the economy, which will allow us to speak in a stronger, clearer voice in any debate.

“In terms of health care, we can demonstrate how legislation would affect the numbers of people in the work force.

“And on immigration reform, we can go to members of Congress from specific states and show how many jobs our sector is creating and what impact any immigration reforms would have.”

SN video: Larkin Sees ‘Challenging Year’ From Washington for Independents

According to Joseph Sheridan, president and chief operating officer of Wakefern Food Corp., Keasbey, N.J., and NGA chairman,  “These results are astounding but not surprising. They make tangible what we have always known intuitively — that independents are the true entrepreneurs of the grocery industry. 

“But beyond that, independents strive to enhance the communities they serve, and seeing the numbers in black and white shows just how impactful those efforts are.”

Larkin said the data will be updated, probably every two years, though that has not yet been determined.

Sheridan also noted that, because the data “is telling the story only of the bricks-and-mortar world, we will eventually have to look at what might happen going forward as shopping habits change.”

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