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Small Business Saturday Gains Strength Moving Into Year Five

Written by Alexandra Edelstein

While retailers overall may be disappointed that shopper traffic from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, November 30th dropped 5.2% this year from 2013, small businesses have reason to be optimistic as the momentum gaining around Small Business Saturday shows no sign of slowing down.

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 with the intention of sparking a holiday shopping tradition, stuck between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which encouraged consumers across the country to think small as they spent big money on Thanksgiving Holiday sales. The first-annual Small Business Saturday Insights Survey was published in 2012 by American Express in partnership with the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). According to the 2013 Survey, consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday increased to 71% of those polled last year from 67% in 2012, and there was a near 4% increase in consumer spending with independent merchants from 2012 to 2013. In response to these findings, NFIB CEO said, “In an uncertain economy, America’s small businesses have remained a beacon — creating good jobs and supporting the families they employ and the communities around them.” This year, American Express and the NFIB reported a 15% increase in the number of consumers that ‘shopped small’ on Small Business Saturday compared to 2013.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) mentioned Small Business Saturday for the first time in a press release this year discussing 2014 Black Friday trends, highlighting that out of all surveyed shoppers indicating plans to shop on Saturday over the holiday weekend, 75.2% were hitting the stores that day specifically for Small Business Saturday. While the percentage of holiday shoppers planning to shop on Black Friday dropped from 69% in 2013 to 65% in 2014, those planning to shop specifically on Saturday increased from 43.8% to 51.8%.

Recent shifts in the economy and holiday shopping market may be encouraging consumers to sit back and ignore Black Friday promotions altogether, but the increased focus around supporting small business is mobilizing shoppers in unprecedented ways.

“Small businesses are critical to the stability of our local communities and growth of our national economy. We are confident that the broad national support for these businesses will continue well beyond November 29th”, says Denise Picket, President of CEO of American Express OPEN. To that end, as part of its Shop Small movement, American Express allows small business owners to create personalized marketing materials on its ShopSmall.com website. Twitter and Facebook have also joined the effort to help business owners maximize their marketing on social media through the Shop Small campaign. The US Small Business Association (SBA) actively promotes Small Business Saturday, and offers additional resources for business owners seeking advice on how to best prepare for and market around the holidays.

At ICIC, we are dedicated to celebrating and supporting small business year round. Our efforts range from annually publishing the top 100 fastest growing inner city businesses in FORTUNE, to our partnership on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative that offers small business owners the education, tools and support they need to grow at no cost to them. If both the resource support and consumer support for small businesses continues to grow, the American economy will strengthen and grow as well; and that is a reason for all of us to be optimistic in 2015.

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