In a turbulent time, Americans place more trust in small businesses than in other industries

Consumer confidence in most US institutions has declined over the past year, with large companies continuing to lose support. But the public continues to believe strongly in small businesses, which are the most trusted American institutions, according to a Gallup poll released this week. The poll found that 68 percent of respondents had high or high levels of trust in small businesses; that is two percentage points lower than last year’s 70 percent.

Confidence in small businesses and the military is bridging the partisan divide in Congress and elsewhere in the country. Meanwhile, US confidence in government agencies took a dent: Confidence in the Supreme Court fell 11 percentage points, from 36 percent to 25 percent, while confidence in the presidency fell 15 percentage points, from 38 percent to 23 percent. Congress was in last place on the list, with public support falling to 7 percent, five percentage points less than last year’s 12 percent.

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Small businesses have received favorable public attention in recent years. Consumers remain wary of large companies, which received a paltry 14 percent favorable opinion in the survey, down 4 percentage points from 2021.

Deloitte research shows that consumers are increasingly interested in shopping from brands with a clear purpose, although price and quality continue to attract more and more attention to a company. Still, targeted brands are likely to gain a competitive advantage over competitors who aren’t targeted, according to the Deloitte report from last October.

The level of trust in small businesses also suggests that they have a meaningful role to play as trust in our institutions crumbles, especially given the economic and political uncertainty. A majority of business leaders expressed some concern about democracy earlier this year, while 85 percent of business leaders noted that capitalism is either very dependent or somewhat dependent on a functioning democracy. Those findings came from a poll conducted by data intelligence firm Morning Consult and conducted for the consultancy Public Private Strategies, which helps create partnerships, build coalitions and bridge opportunities between the public and private sectors.

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The Gallup survey was conducted between June 1 and June 20 and surveyed a random sample of 1,015 American adults. Gallup began measuring public confidence in the country’s institutions in 1973 and began measuring consumer confidence in small businesses in 1998.

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