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The History and Benefits of Small Business Saturday


Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is another holiday of which you may not be aware, but it’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year. We’re talking, of course, about Small Business Saturday — held this year on November 25th. 

This event was launched in 2010 by American Express in an effort to boost patronage among small businesses — i.e., mom and pop shops, local brick-and-mortar stores and even family-owned restaurants. 

Though why would anyone create a new “shopping holiday” in an age where Black Friday and Cyber Monday already exist? Simple. A recent study indicated 74 percent of small businesses feel “little to no impact on their bottom line” from Black Friday or Cyber Monday. These other shopping events are really designed for big-name retailers such as Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy. 

Small Business Saturday — Through the Years

The holiday is still technically a registered trademark of American Express, and customers who use their American Express cards at local shops on Small Business Saturday still qualify for cash back rewards. 

Over the years, however, this “branded” holiday has evolved into something much more important: 

  • In 2011, the U.S. Senate officially recognized Small Business Saturday as a holiday. 
  • By 2012, this shopping event had spread to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 
  • In 2013, more than 1,400 local neighborhoods celebrated Small Business Saturday from coast to coast. 
  • In 2014, the shopping holiday generated more than $14 billion in revenues for local, independent business owners. 
  • In 2015, approximately 95 million Americans celebrated Small Business Saturday by shopping at small businesses.
  • In 2016, total revenues for this relatively new shopping holiday exceeded $15 billion. 

The Hidden Benefits of Small Business Saturday

If you’ve never heard of this holiday before, don’t feel bad — but you are in the minority. 

According to a 2014 survey  by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 55 percent of American shoppers are aware that this holiday exists. This impact is measurable, with American Express reporting a 23 percent increase  in small business sales in 2011 — the same year the holiday was first recognized by the U.S. Senate. 

Even better, this emphasis on “local” helps to generate buzz during the non-holiday season. According to that earlier NFIB study, 83 percent of U.S. consumers indicated that Small Business Saturday inspired them to shop locally all year. 

That’s great when you consider the societal benefits that these local stores and restaurants provide: 

  • Compared to large companies, small businesses donate an estimated 250 percent  more to community causes and nonprofit organizations. If you’re looking to support worthwhile initiatives, consider doing more of your shopping at local establishments. 
  • For every $1 spent at a small business, roughly 68 cents stay in the local economy. By contrast, only 43 cents stick around when you spend that same $1 at a national chain. 

Also, don’t forget that small businesses are the primary job creators in America. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), nearly 66 percent of all new jobs from 1993 to 2011 were created by local, independent companies — not major retailers. 

How to Prepare for Small Business Saturday 2017

Given the benefits outlined above, this holiday is clearly a win-win for everyone involved (except maybe the Walmarts and Amazons of the world). 

Yet, as a small retailer, how do you maximize these benefits — especially if 45 percent of the country hasn’t even heard of Small Business Saturday? 

Well, for starters, you should boost your marketing budget during this crucial weekend. Though instead of taking out expensive ads to highlight Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, you should redirect that money to Small Business Saturday. 

  • There will be less overall competition for ad space. 
  • The rates will be a little cheaper as a result. 
  • The potential payoff will be even higher. 

Of course, you want to make sure that your merchant services are up to the task. This means: 

  • Having the requisite staff to handle additional sales traffic. 
  • Making sure your inventory is ordered and stocked in advance. 
  • Training your staff how to deal with returns, refunds and exchanges. 

Assuming your store is already set up to handle Black Friday traffic, you should be OK. However, if you do go all in on Small Business Saturday, be sure to give your staff Thanksgiving Thursday off.  

What If You’re Not Ready for Small Business Saturday?

We at BluePay hope this upcoming Small Business Saturday (on November 25th) is a stunning success. 

Though if you’re not quite prepared this time around, don’t worry. What began as a branding exercise by American Express is now an annual, nationwide event, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to perfect your “sales” formula in the future: 

  • Next year (2018), the holiday falls on November 24th. 
  • In 2019, Small Business Saturday is November 30th. 
  • In 2020, it’ll be celebrated on November 28th. 

Want more tips on how to make Small Business Saturday a record-breaking sales event by offering a better customer checkout experience?

Get a free consultation today!

Topics: Small Business Tips

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