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Small Business Surveyed: What Do They Really Think About Occupy Wall Street?

Demonstrators with 'Occupy Wall Street' continue their protest at Zuccotti Park in New York on November 4, 2011.
Photo: Timothy A Clary | AFP | Getty Images
Demonstrators with 'Occupy Wall Street' continue their protest at Zuccotti Park in New York on November 4, 2011.

Small-business ownersnot only have strong opinions about Occupy Wall Street— they're often among those most directly affected. As we reported recently, a small-business owner even claimed he had to lay off employees because of customer-deterring, OWS-related police barricades. But while most of the accounts of small-business owners related to OWS have been anecdotal, a recent survey by VerticalResponse, an email marketing service provider, weighs the actual numbers of small businesses for and against.

According to a recent survey of more than 200 U.S. small businesses to see what they thought about Occupy Wall Street and its impact on small businesses, VerticalResponse found that U.S. small businesses are nearly evenly split on the issue. Forty-nine percent say they support OWS, while 46.6 percent say they don't, and 4.2 percent say they're not sure.

The detractors are more confident that the OWS movement hurts small business, while a greater number of supporters are indifferent about whether it helps or hurts small business. Of those who support the movement, 73 percent say it helps small business and 23 percent say they're indifferent. Of those who oppose the movement, almost 82 percent say it hurts small business, while 17 percent are indifferent.

The study also asked the small-business owners where they stand within the realm of the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent. More than 39 percent of the supporters ranked their income below the 50th percentile, compared to about 30 percent of detractors who claimed their income was below the 50th percentile.

To back up their support or lack of support for OWS, small-business owners also submitted anonymous responses. One supporter replied, "Banks, both commercial and retail, have little interest in small business. In fact, they have little interest in making money the old-fashioned way, earning it with banking principles. Again, this brings attention to the unsavory greed of the banks at the expense of the small businesses who carry this nation on their backs."

Responses from detractors included, "It promotes uncertainty in the state of our country. People who are uncertain about the future tend to spend less," and "I don't think it has any impact on small business in the short run (other than within the immediate locales where the protests occur). Should their message become more coherent and gain political traction over the long-term, they could inspire knee-jerk legislation that could be harmful to both small and big business alike."