The Independent’s Playbook: Keeping the Faith

July 19, 2023

By Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs

Even in challenging times, even with high inflation, it’s hard not to still love your local neighborhood grocery store.

And most folks would appear to agree, even as their faith in society’s major institutions drags the ground.

A new Gallup poll finds small business enjoying the most public trust, with 65% of Americans having a great deal or fair amount of confidence in it. That’s good news for independent grocers, who have built their reputations upon trust, along with good quality and service, in their stores as well as within their communities.

Rounding out the top five most-trusted institutions: the military (60%), police (43%), medical system (34%) and organized religion (32%).

Trust is hard to win and easily lost. With widespread marketplace competition and inflationary pressure, transparency and honest engagement have never been more important in business. That’s why grocers should never take anything for granted. Keep looking for new ways to engage your customers, to answer their questions and to provide solutions to their everyday needs.

Fail to be an active participant in your own success and you risk winding up at the opposite end of this poll, alongside the five worst-rated institutions: newspapers, the criminal justice system, television news, big business and Congress.

The latest poll seems to indicate the public’s confidence in our institutions is in freefall. “The historically depressed nature of today’s ratings is evident in the average confidence scores of nine institutions that Gallup has routinely tracked since 1979,” the pollster reported. “That average fell to a new low of 26% this year. While down just one point from 2022, it is 10 points lower than in 2020.”

In addition to small business, only three other institutions scored significantly above their historical low: the military, organized labor and banks. However, Gallup notes, the lows for these institutions were recorded more than a decade ago, while the recent trend for each has been downward.

Still, independent grocers are in an enviable position, not only as small businesses, but institutions that, despite swings in the economy that inhibit personal spending, make most folks happy. I challenge anyone to walk the fresh perimeter of their local grocery store and, after taking in the vibrant colors, fragrant aromas and savory flavors, not walk out with a smile on their face.