Does Small Business Saturday Boost Small Businesses? Yes!

Author: Caron Beesley | November 24, 2016

November 26th is the 7th annual celebration of Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express OPEN to raise awareness of the role that small businesses play in our communities and help these businesses capitalize on holiday spending (the day always falls on the Saturday after Black Friday). Since its inception, The White House, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), state agencies, and business chambers have become a big advocates of the day.

Small Business Saturday Brings in Huge Gains

The campaign is working. Year over year, more and more small businesses and consumers have rallied to support Small Business Saturday.

In 2015, 95 million people shopped at small independent businesses (including retailers and restaurants) on Small Business Saturday, bringing in an estimated $16.3 billion, 14% increase from 2014 (source).

Among those who shopped, 31% attended a community event on the day and 81% encouraged family and friends to support their local small businesses.

Social Media Lights Up for Small Business Saturday

Social media is a huge platform for raising awareness of Small Business Saturday. In 2015, there were 85 million social media engagements in support of the day: Consumers showing their love for their favorite small businesses, business owners raising awareness of their promotions and activities to government officials, and celebrities showing their support for the day and their preferred small businesses.

If you’re participating or looking for inspiration look for the following hashtags: #ShopSmall, #SmallBizSat, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #ShopSmallBusinessSaturday, #ShopSmallForAll, and #ShopSmallSaturday. Follow Small Business Saturday on Facebook.

Ready to Get Involved?

The Small Business Saturday website offers lots of free tools (posters, customizable flyers, social posts, and more) to help you promote your business’ involvement in the initiative. If you’re not sure what to do, there are also event inspiration ideas from other businesses. The SBA also has a page dedicated to the event with tips and resources.

Educate Your Customers on Why Shopping Small Matters

Don’t just stop there. Below is some useful data about the importance of shopping small to share with your customers or use in your marketing campaigns (these can be used year-round too):

  • When you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in your community. If you spent $100 at a non-local business, only $43 stays in the community. When you shop online, $0 stays in your community.
  • Small businesses have created 63.3% of all net new jobs since 1992.
  • Over 50% of the U.S. population works for a small business.
  • Small businesses pay 44% of total U.S. private payroll.
  • 89% of consumers believe that small businesses contribute positively to their local communities.

Sources: SBA, American Express, Civil Economics

Small Business Saturday Mistakes to Avoid

With all the media coverage that Small Business Saturday is getting, don’t just assume that customers will show up out of the goodness of their hearts. Take advantage of the free marketing materials that I mentioned above and be proactive about getting your participation across in emails, in-person, and on social media.

Also, don’t be tempted to go down the “oh, let’s just offer a discount” route. People who shop for discounts rarely turn into repeat customers, and repeat customers make up more than 50% of sales. So think long-term. Here are four alternatives to discounting to consider.

Finally, Small Business Saturday is as much about raising awareness of the role that small businesses play in the community and what they have to offer as it is about boosting holiday sales. So don’t just focus on the sale—find ways to elevate your business and community together. Look to partner with other small businesses, host sidewalk events, do some co-marketing, show you customers some love: It’s all about working together to boost your community.

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