New small business coalition urges action on antitrust policy

A coalition of independent businesses was launched on Tuesday to urge federal policy reform to curb the market power of leading companies.

The coalition, Small Business Rising, specifically targets Amazon – accusing the e-commerce giant of anti-competitive tactics and harming small businesses nationwide.

“Concentration of market power is the greatest threat facing independent businesses,” Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said in a statement. “Every day we are losing more and more small businesses to the abusive and anti-competitive tactics of Amazon and other monopolies. This campaign gives American entrepreneurs a platform to stand up and call on policymakers to control the monopoly power and to reinvigorate antitrust laws.

Small Business Rising is a joint campaign of over 20 independent business organizations representing over 60,000 independent businesses across the country. Other organizations involved in the campaign include the American Booksellers Association, the American Independent Business Alliance, the Main Street Alliance and the National Grocers Association.

The coalition is urging lawmakers to help break up and regulate tech companies it has called monopolies.

He also urges lawmakers to prevent dominant companies from engaging in abusive tactics by strengthening antitrust laws, as well as banning “mega-mergers.”

“The pandemic has brought to light just how concentrated our markets are, with companies like Amazon seeing a massive surge in profits as America’s small businesses struggle to survive. The ABA believes we are stronger together and is excited to offer our members this opportunity to connect with other independent businesses as we advocate to break monopoly power,” said Allison K. Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, in a statement.

Amazon pushed back against criticism of the coalition, saying it has actually “empowered small and medium-sized businesses.”

“Self-interested critics are pushing misguided free-market interventions that would kill independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices, and reducing consumer choice and convenience. Amazon and third-party sellers complement each other, and sellers with the ability to sell alongside a retailer’s products are the very competition that benefits consumers the most and has made the marketplace model so effective for third-party sellers,” said an Amazon spokesperson in a statement.

Earlier this year, the coalition of associations came together in a letter to President Biden urging the administration to prioritize antitrust efforts.

House Democrats released a report on digital marketplace competition last year that accused Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook of being monopolies and offered a series of proposals.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in February introduced an ambitious bill to strengthen competition laws that included many of the report’s suggestions, and the House Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee held a series of hearings starting in February on proposals to address what it sees as an abuse of power in the online marketplace.

The companies have pushed back against accusations of their market power.

Amazon published a blog post after the release of the House report that said “large companies are not dominant by definition.”

“[T]The presumption that success can only be the result of anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong,” the company said at the time. “And yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, these errors are at the heart of this regulatory spat on antitrust.”

—Updated at 12:26 p.m.

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