Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Return of Small Business Saturday

In between Black Friday and Cyber Monday sits Small Business Saturday (SBS), which makes its annual return Nov 28. The special shopping Saturday continues to grow and this year will mark its fifth year. It is an initiative to encourage and remind shoppers to shop small and to shop local. One very large business, American Express, helped create and launch Small Business Saturday along with then NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010.

Participating in SBS
The organizers suggest three ways for small businesses to "make the most" of the day: host special events, offer small business Saturday-only promotion, and band together with other businesses.  A district could use these tips to make this year the most successful SBS or encourage small businesses themselves to submit their stories online. 

SBS by the Numbers:
Here's a look at Small Business Saturday 2014 by the numbers:
  • 88 million consumers “shopped small,” up 14.9 percent from 2013
  • $14.3 billion spent – an increase of 2.1 percent
  • 446 official support companies
  • 386 advocacy organizations
  • 126,000 tweets were sent, many using the hashtags #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall
  • 3.3 million Facebook users “liked” the Small Business Saturday “Shop Small” official page
  • nearly 3,000 Neighborhood Champions – groups, organizations and communities – rallied local businesses, creating events and activities to celebrate
  • $5.9 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday
Broad Based Political Support (with some local detractors mixed in)
Political support continues to grow as well. In 2013, 41 governors gave proclamations supporting Small Business Saturday and 43 U.S. Senators pledged their support. Even President Obama participated, taking his daughters to a local bookstore on Small Business Saturday a few years ago. 

While some businesses have used SBS to drive sales during the busy holiday season, other communities have taken the idea and turned it back into something local. Cindy Baxter, a retail consultant and a prominent voice among independent business owners, was initially tapped to help launch Small Business Saturday in her community but instead defected to develop her own local retail initiative, the 3/50 Project, which "promotes stronger local economies through support of independent retailers" (Markowitz,, 2012).

Regardless of whether your district participates in the Am Ex program or develops its own "Shop Local" effort, the success of the initiative demonstrates the value in coordinated public relations and marketing as a valuable tool for local business districts. 

Check out these interesting links:

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