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Shop Small on Small Business Saturday

November 19, 2012

November 24, 2012 is Small Business Saturday in the United States. Conceived by American Express in 2010 as a creative way of encouraging holiday shoppers to support their local small businesses during the busiest shopping weekend of the year (which is bookended by Black Friday and Cyber Monday), Small Business Saturday has grown into a movement that last year included nearly 3 million Facebook users, 230 private and public organizations, 75 corporations like FedEx, and elected officials in all 50 states – as well as hundreds of thousands of merchants.

In 2011, over 500,000 small business owners leveraged an on-line tool or promotional materials for Small Business Saturday, and 15,000 companies signed up for free Facebook advertising to promote their products and services. Millions of Americans, including President Barack Obama, shopped at small businesses, and participating merchants saw significant increases in their business from the year before.

This year, according to a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, 46 percent of small businesses plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday as part of their holiday strategy, and the majority (67 percent) plan to offer some kind of discounts on November 24. Of those small businesses planning to promote Small Business Saturday, 80 percent expect to see a year-over-year boost in sales on that day.

"Research has shown that American consumers have a deep trust in, and admiration for, the small business community. Small Business Saturday gives them a chance to show their appreciation – and help America's essential job creators in a very real way – by patronizing small shops, restaurants and service providers," said NFIB CEOI Dan Danner. "And anything that helps with sales is certainly appreciated by small business owners, many of whom have struggled to stay afloat in a rough and uncertain economy."

And, this year, Small Business Saturday couldn't come at a better time for small businesses and merchants that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy in the northeastern United States. What small businesses in those affected areas need now is customers and Small Business Saturday is designed to get people out shopping in the neighborhoods where they live and work.

Jeffrey Trull of Money Talks News recently penned an article about Small Business Saturday for MSN Money where he listed some reasons why shopping on Small Business Saturday makes sense. Some of these reasons are:

  • Support the local economy. According to a study of the local economy in Salt Lake City, an average of 52 percent of revenue from local retailers returned to the local economy compared to only 14 percent for national chains. Similar findings were reported for restaurants, with local eateries returning an average of 79 percent versus just 30 percent for chains.
  • Better for the environment. Two-thirds of goods purchased by American consumers come by cargo ships, which are significant polluters. According to a 2009 article in The Guardian, just 15 percent of the world's biggest ships emit as much pollution as all of the world's 760 million cars.
  • More local jobs. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses employ about half of all private sector employees in the United States. Shopping at local businesses helps smaller shops keep their doors open and their workers employed.
Fast Company recently referred to Small Business Saturday as "the most successful marketing campaign of the decade." Perhaps. But, it's much more than that. Supporting small businesses helps local communities and local jobs, and it's good for the environment. As such it's a great example of corporate social responsibility at its finest – helping communities in a way that's good for society and good for business.

So, shop small on Small Business Saturday. Visit a boutique, eat in a locally-owned restaurant, buy a unique handmade gift, browse in a local book store or wine shop or work out in a local gym. But, don't forget nonprofit organizations – small theaters and dance companies, gift shops in parks and museums, thrift shops and charity second-hand clothing stores – they are small businesses too!

If you have a question or comment, or would like to share your favorite small business or nonprofit enterprise, please let us know by clicking here.

P.S. Did you know that 34 percent of small businesses in the NFIB survey said that Small Business Saturday is the most important shopping day during the holiday season, compared to 24 percent who cited Black Friday and 14 percent who cited Cyber Monday? 37 percent said they are all equally important.


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