Brick-and-mortar small businesses share views on public safety in their communities

Small Business Majority
miércoles, junio 5, 2024


As narratives and concerns about national crime persist, it’s important to take the perspectives of America’s entrepreneurs into account. Across the country, headlines report stories of break-ins and smash-and-grab thefts at retail stores with an implication that these crimes are part of a broader issue impacting the small business community. Concurrently, many legislators are adopting a tough-on-crime approach as they seek to reverse criminal justice reforms that gained traction in the Black Lives Matter movement. In upcoming elections, voters will be choosing district attorneys and other decision-makers that will decide the fate of criminal justice reforms in their local communities. 

Small Business Majority’s new national opinion poll of brick-and-mortar small business owners reveals that they are more concerned about economic issues that impact their businesses than crime in their communities. However, crime does still worry business owners and some note that crime has negatively impacted their revenue, insurance cost and business opportunities. They support the implementation of programs in their communities to support justice-impacted individuals or those struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and a plurality believes that their tax dollars are better spent on alternatives to incarceration than law enforcement and policing activities. This survey is part of Small Business Majority’s broader research effort to understand the various ways in which criminal justice reforms impact or present opportunities for small businesses.

Key findings

  • Small business owners widely support alternatives to incarceration, with a plurality (46%) believing tax dollars are better spent on rehabilitation and support for individuals dealing with drug addiction, mental health issues and/or homelessness. Another 40% believe tax dollars should be spent equally on law enforcement and alternatives to policing, while just 13% think tax dollars would be better spent on crime enforcement. While Democrats were much more likely to support more spending on alternatives (60% Democrat to 37% Republican), Republican respondents agreed that the spending should be evenly split.
  • While there is a perception that crime is a problem nationally, when it comes to their local communities where their business is based, small business owners perceive crime to be less of an issue. Similarly, they perceive other business owners in their community to have similar levels of concern about crime locally.
  • Crime ranked low in relation to other economic issues that business owners may be concerned about, including inflation and the general state of the economy.
  • Still, crime does worry business owners to some extent. More respondents felt that crime has been getting worse than getting better, though most think it has stayed relatively the same. About a quarter of respondents feel that crime has had negative impacts on their business’ revenue, employee morale and lost business opportunities, while nearly 4 in 10 think crime has led to increased insurance costs for their business.
  • Respondents were asked about a set of crimes and issues related to crime, including drug addiction and mental health issues. Respondents largely have a negative view of how local law enforcement and the local government respond to addiction and mental health issues. Democrats were more likely to view the response poorly (57%) compared to Republicans (46%).
  • A majority of respondents’ businesses were located in suburban areas (46%), while 30% were in urban areas and nearly a quarter (24%) were in rural areas.
  • The sample leans right, with 34% of respondents identifying as Republican and 31% Democrat. Of the remaining independents, 31% lean Republican, 24% lean Democrat, while 44% stated they have no party preference.