The Retail Scientist Blog

The Retail Scientist Blog

Check Your Triple Bottom Line

Jul 8, 2024 | Articles

For your small business to be sustainable in the long term, it should not only focus on financial returns but also consider broader quality-of-life objectives.

As well as finding ways to differentiate their business from the larger corporate chains, truly sustainable owner-operated businesses should work towards a “triple bottom line” – where social, environmental and financial goals can be achieved.

Triple Bottom Line

The concept of the triple bottom line has gained significant traction, urging companies to evaluate their performance not just on profit, but also on their social and environmental impact.

1. People:

  • Personalised Service: Owner-operators provide more personal service and connections. For example: US research showed over 50% of patients knew their local independent pharmacist by name, compared to 14% at chain pharmacies1.
  • Community Involvement: Local owners participate in community events, sponsor activities, and support local charities, fostering strong community ties and collective well-being.
  • Responsiveness: Independent businesses can quickly adapt to market changes and community needs without corporate bureaucracy, ensuring they meet local demands effectively.

2. Planet:

  • Local Economics: Locally owned businesses keep more money circulating within the community, promoting economic sustainability. For every $100 spent, $68 stays in the community compared to $43 for non-local businesses2.
  • Sustainable Practices: Independent owners often adopt sustainable practices such as buying locally, living close to where they work, and minimising waste, that benefit the local environment and contribute to the community’s long-term health and well-being.

3. Profits:

  • Economic Retention: Money spent at local businesses has a higher retention rate within the community, boosting local economic growth and repeat business.
  • Autonomy and Flexibility: By providing a more personalised bundle of products and services based on local needs and opportunities, independent businesses create greater value for customers, while enhancing their profitability.

It is increasingly apparent that locally owned pharmacies are not just healthcare providers; they are integral to the fabric of their communities by contributing to a healthier, more sustainable, and economically vibrant society.

They embody the principles of the triple bottom line by promoting the social and economic prosperity of their local communities, rather than acting as funnels siphoning funds out of the local area to some remote, corporate head office.

A Prosperous Future

The economist Professor Tim Jackson3 points out that the word prosperity has its origins in Latin that means “to have hope”.

“At the end of the day prosperity goes beyond material pleasures. It transcends material concerns. It resides in the quality of our lives and in the health and happiness of our families. It is present in the strength of our relationships and our trust in our community. It is evidenced by our satisfaction at work and our sense of shared meaning and purpose. It hangs on our potential to contribute fully in the life of society.

Prosperity consists of our ability to flourish as human beings – within the ecological limits of a finite planet. The challenge for our society is to create the conditions under which this is possible.”

Independent community pharmacies exemplify this holistic approach, fostering benefits for people, the planet, and profits. While your financial success is important, we should all ensure our businesses also play their role by providing hope to our communities of a healthy and prosperous future.



3Prosperity without Growth – Economics for a Finite Planet – Prof Tim Jackson