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Small Business Saturday: Why It Matters to Local Stores

Small Business Saturday: Why It Matters to Local Stores

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By Enid Naranjo, JD
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University

Small Business Saturday is a great case study in the world of finance and business. This idea was originally created by credit card behemoth American Express seven years ago.

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Its purpose was to help small businesses garner additional public awareness of their companies and to change the way consumers shop within their own community during the holiday season. In 2011, Small Business Saturday became official when Washington State mayors, governors, senators and President Obama shared their support for Small Business Saturday.

Over time, Small Business Saturday picked up more traction, and American Express encouraged all small business across the country to take charge and promote their businesses in 2012. It was an amazing campaign that reached the public through print, the airways, and even posters on city streets.

American Express even offered small business owners a Small Business Saturday toolkit consisting of free, personalized ads to spread across the Web. Also in 2012, an estimated $5.5 billion was spent across the nation at independent businesses. By 2013, neighborhoods began celebrating the day with events of their own, pledging support to local businesses and organizations.

Small Business Saturday Has Grown Even More over the Years

Participation in Small Business Saturday has continued to grow year after year. By 2015, more than 95 million people shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, an eight percent increase from 2014. In 2015, spending reached $16.2 billion.

In 2016, Small Business Saturday reached record highs with 72 percent of U.S. consumers aware of the day and an estimated 112 million shoppers made purchases on that day. In 2017, Small Business Saturday marked the seventh year for Small Business Saturday.

An estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local, independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2017. Roughly $12 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday in 2017.

In 2018, the numbers were expected to rise as more consumers continue to care just as much about the shopping experience itself as the gifts they’re purchasing.

Buying Products Online Contributes to the Demise of Small Businesses

As technical disruptions continue to change the business landscape, many of us have not thought about the fact that each of us has contributed to the demise of small business. Each time we buy products online, it becomes harder and harder for small businesses to keep their doors open. We really need to think about the fact that we are transitioning to a world without bakeries, bookstores, boutiques and local restaurants.

Shopping local is important because it affects the entire community. More money spent in local stores means that more money stays within the community. That not only helps schools and other organizations through taxes, but small businesses are usually the organizations that support local sports teams, charities and events. The community wins as a whole, but those business entrepreneurs who took a chance and made their dream a reality win as well.

For instance, ninety percent of consumers surveyed by global CEO advisory company Teneo said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community. When spending $100 at your local business, approximately $68 stays within your local economy. Local retailers are more likely to hire locally than retail chains.

What American Express has shown us is the power of our own dollar. When like-minded people want to achieve a given goal or express their opinion, there is nothing like the power of the dollar to make things happen.

By coming together as a collective for the common good, we can invigorate and strengthen the local neighborhoods that nurture families across the country. The success of the Small Business Saturday program shows us the role that small businesses play and why they deserve of our support.

Through this program, we can also see the vibrancy of small business despite the disruption of tech. It is that beautiful entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation and opportunities in our country and that can make the world a better place.

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About the Author

Enid Naranjo is an adjunct instructor in the School of Business at American Public University. She has been teaching online classes in English and Spanish since 2009.

Enid’s academic credentials include a B.A. in history from the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus and a J.D. in law from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. She is a multi-faceted business executive with over 15 years of experience. Enid has worked for several women-led enterprises, including Hispanic Radio Network and Colon Enterprises, Inc. She is an avid small business enthusiast and enjoys providing legal counsel to budding entrepreneurs.

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