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American Express Champions Small Businesses

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The Small Business Saturday founder has launched other initiatives like its Shop Small cardmember offer and a $10 million allocation to a grant program for Black Business owners.

Whether it’s your favorite local coffee shop, the family-owned thrift store downtown, or a farmers market featuring community vendors, small businesses are the cornerstone of America’s economy. But these special places can only thrive if they have customers to serve. With Small Business Saturday approaching on Nov. 28, now is a great time to start thinking about ways you can support the small businesses in your area.

New York City-based financial services corporation American Express created the event in 2010, amid the recession, to help drive holiday shopping at small businesses nationwide. 

Small Business Saturday, which takes place annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, received national recognition after the success of its launch. In 2011, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting the day and President Obama praised the event as well.

Last year’s 10th annual event saw an estimated $19.6 billion in reported spending–a record high. 

“Over the past 10 years consumers reported spending an estimated total of more than $120 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday,” said Chief Marketing Officer at American Express Elizabeth Rutledge in a Dec. 2019 press release.

During a year when small businesses have been shuttered by the pandemic, they need our support more than ever. According to Small Business Recovery research conducted by American Express, 62 percent of small businesses in the U.S. said that to stay in business, they need consumer spending at their locations to return to pre-COVID margins by the end of the year. American Express hopes its 11th annual Small Business Saturday will offer much-needed relief. 

The company’s Shop Small Map allows shoppers to find American Express card-accepting small businesses in their region. Additionally, its Stand For Small digital hub, announced in April, millions of U.S. small businesses would access to “valuable services, offers, tools, and expertise, among other benefits,” which would help them attract and keep customers during these unprecedented times. 

“American Express has a long history of backing small businesses and we know that they are the backbone of our communities and when they thrive, we all thrive,” said Walter Frye, VP of Global Brand Engagement at American Express in a statement to The Business Download. “With the current challenging times small businesses are facing we know that they need our support more than ever, which is why we have launched a number of initiatives with the shared goal of offering support to small businesses across the country.”

One of those initiatives includes its Shop Small campaign. Earlier this year, the company pledged over $200 million in its largest global Shop Small endeavor to-date. The campaign, which was announced at the end of June, included a Shop Small cardmember offer and an associated marketing push geared at boosting spending at small merchants. Any eligible and enrolled U.S. cardmember could receive $5 back for every $10 or more spent, up to 10 times, at a small business online or in-store until September 20.

Additionally, the company announced that as part of the initiative, it would allocate $10 million to a grant program in support of U.S. Black-owned small business recovery. A report from earlier this year from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Black-owned businesses were hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Small businesses play a crucial role in our communities, and when the pandemic hit, Black-owned small businesses were hit the hardest,” said Anré Williams, Group President, Global Merchant & Network Services at American Express. “The Coalition is aimed to provide eligible Black-owned small businesses with much-needed capital to help recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and help them rebuild their businesses.”

Until September 21, Black small business owners who met certain eligibility requirements were able to apply for a $5,000 grant. Special consideration went to women-owned businesses, which the company said would comprise at least 25 percent of grants awarded.

American Express, which employs 64,500 worldwide, reported $43.6 billion in annual revenue for 2019. The company said that as of Dec. 31, 2019, it had 54.7 million cards in force in the United States with average annual U.S. spending of $21,515. In terms of transactions, American Express is the world’s largest issuer of credit cards. The financial services giant is active in more than 160 countries and territories and averages 6 billion transactions per year.


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