A national coalition of small businesses is calling for stronger antitrust measures in a pushback against Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN). If the group successfully pushes through the measures, they could force the company to spin off some of its businesses.
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Small businesses target Amazon
According to The Wall Street Journal, trade groups representing small office supply stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, bookstores and others have teamed up with business groups from 12 cities. Merchants intend to push their congressional representatives for tougher antitrust laws and more enforcement of current ones.
The groups represent thousands of businesses. They’re calling for legislation that would keep Amazon or other owners of dominant e-commerce sites from selling their own products that compete with those from other sellers. If they are successful in pushing legislation through, it could force Amazon to spin off its retail product business from its online marketplace.
The House Antitrust Subcommittee is weighing legislation similar to what the merchant groups have called for, although no member has submitted a bill yet. The merchant groups are also calling for stricter enforcement of competition laws and changes that would make it harder for companies to win antitrust lawsuits filed by the government.
Amazon defends itself
In a statement, a spokesperson for Amazon said the merchant groups are “suggesting misguided interventions in the free market that would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices and reducing consumer choice and convenience.
The online retailer also said that its marketplace and merchants “complement each other,” as sellers can sell their products next to a retailer’s own products. Amazon also runs public-relations campaigns to highlight stories of success from third-party merchants that sell on its platform.
For example, the company held an event in 2019 at which sellers of cooking spices and baby products handed out free samples and talked about how Amazon’s marketplace enabled their startups to grow.
David versus Goliath
The coalition is called Small Business Rising, and its members include the Alliance for Pharmacy Compounding, the American Booksellers Association and the National Grocers Association. Their goal is to utilize small business owners’ connections to their communities by meeting with congressional representatives and their staff, writing letters, pushing for news coverage from local outlets and other efforts.
Amazon is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families.