Just-released data reveals independently owned small retailers account for 11 percent less of total retail sales than they did 20 years ago (from 57% in 1990 down to 46% in 2009). Independent bars and restaurants fared slightly better, but still lost seven percent of total sales (from 71% in 1990 to 64% in 2009).

At the same time, the research reveals thriving small businesses in local communities lift real estate values. Over a 14-year period, neighborhoods with thriving independent businesses saw home values outperform citywide markets by 50 percent. The comprehensive study, titled the American Express OPEN Independent Retail Index, is the first-ever, 20-year analysis of America’s small businesses on national, city and neighborhood levels. It was conducted by Civic Economics, an economic analysis and strategic planning consultancy.

The report looked at 27 neighborhoods where small businesses have thrived – “indie hotspots” – in 15 major U.S. cities and found some encouraging trends:

Independent full-service restaurants have held onto their relative position and retain strong support among dinning consumers;

Local bars and taverns of all kinds remain strong;

Independent grocery stores have kept pace with overall industry performance, and have seen a modest uptick in the last decade.