What is Small Business Saturday?

what is small business saturday

Without small businesses, the United States economy would not grow. Small businesses make up 99% of all businesses in our country; they fuel innovation, drive economic growth and create millions of job opportunities. So, what better way to support small businesses than with an annual event that encourages people to “shop small?” We are talking about Small Business Saturday, which was started by American Express in 2010.

Since its inception, this one-day event has greatly benefitted small businesses from both a brand awareness and a financial standpoint each year. American Express runs television commercials and online ads that promote Small Business Saturday during the month of November, and this helps get the word out on a national scale. If you have seen the ads or perhaps a “shop small” sticker on a store window, you might have wondered, “Just what is Small Business Saturday?” Well, not to worry. This blog post from Balboa Capital has all of the information you need to know, as well as some tips on how to participate.

History of Small Business Saturday.

As mentioned earlier, American Express laid the groundwork for Small Business Saturday and introduced it on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2010. The primary goals of the event were to promote our nation’s small businesses, encourage consumers to “shop small” for the holidays, and give the economy a boost during the recession that was putting a damper on consumer and business confidence. The first-ever Small Business Saturday was a tremendous success, and the United States government took notice.

In 2011, the “shop small” movement forged ahead. Backed by clever marketing and advertising, the simple and succinct slogan “shop small” began to resonate with consumers and business owners alike. Later that year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that made Small Business Saturday an annual event. It received strong support from the president, and elected officials in all 50 states.

Over the years, Small Business Saturday has become an instantly recognizable event. Small businesses in every industry participate each year, and the event has expanded its reach with a number of local contests and activities.

Is it successful?

Small Business Saturday lands on the day after Black Friday, which is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. As a result, a substantial amount of holiday spending has already occurred before businesses open their doors on Saturday. However, millions of Americans avoid the hustle and bustle of Black Friday and do their shopping on Small Business Saturday or on Cyber Monday. Consumers who prefer mom-and-pop stores to department stores and big-box retailers are also more likely to shop on Small Business Saturday.

With our nation’s most popular holiday sales events happening over three consecutive days, the competition is fierce. That said, Small Business Saturday has proven successful for millions of independent retailers, restaurants, and specialty stores. More than 100 million people shop each year on Small Business Saturday, and sales revenues have increased an average of 8.9% each year since 2014. Last year, shoppers spent more than $21 billion on Small Business Saturday.

Consumers like to “shop small.”

Large brand-name stores might have the brand awareness, bigger store locations and huge sales revenues, but small businesses are poised to thrive. Mom-and-pop stores have special something that taps into the hearts and minds of consumers. People know that shopping at their local hardware store, clothing boutique, flower shop, grocery store, or toy store will make a positive impact. As a side note, research shows that for every dollar spent at a small business, sixty-nine cents remains in the community in which the business is located.

A leading research company conducted a survey last year to gauge the awareness of Small Business Saturday. The results reveal that 6 in 10 consumers are aware of it, and 73% of respondents said they shopped at a small business on Small Business Saturday last year. Moreover, 8 in 10 people who shopped on Small Business Saturday said they are more likely to spend money at small businesses throughout the year. This further supports the notion that consumers like to “shop small.”

How your business can participate.

The holiday shopping season is an exciting, albeit challenging time of the year for small businesses. They need to get ready for the influx of in-store and online shoppers by stocking up on inventory, putting up decorations, hiring part-time help, finalizing promotions, and updating their websites. If tasks like these are completed in the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, business owners and their employees will get the most out of this big shopping day.

Participating in Small Business Saturday is easy and only requires a little bit of effort. Before you create your action plan, remember that you do not need to promote Small Business Saturday. American Express has this covered, and the national and local news outlets will run stories about the event. What you should promote is your company’s participation in Small Business Saturday, and mention any sales, special offers or special incentives that you will have.

You can utilize social media to get the word out and build excitement among your followers. Posts that announce your holiday hours, special discounts, and new holiday products can help drive sales. Include the most widely used hashtags in your posts for maximum reach. Hashtags relating to Small Business Saturday will trend online. Just make sure to engage with your followers who comment on your posts.

Another way to participate in this event is by sending out a targeted email campaign that announces your special promotions or discounts. Lastly, you can reach out to other local business owners to see if they might be interested in offering cross-promotions on Small Business Saturday. This is a great way to generate sales while providing holiday offers to your mutual customers.