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Small Business Saturday: A Gift Idea To Local Communities

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We know all about the mad scramble holiday shopping can bring. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are about getting the best deals, but they can be described as disorganized chaos. There are plenty of small shops that offer exceptional products for consumers. With Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26, a concerted effort to support local stores has spurred economic growth for nationwide communities for over a decade.

Credit card company American Express created the day in 2010 amid an economic recession. Initially, it was a marketing campaign to prop up and support small business owners struggling to turn a profit. Since then, it’s become an established observance part of the Thanksgiving weekend deal dash. 

In 2011, the Senate unanimously passed a bill supporting the Shop Small Movement, a congruent campaign to Small Business Saturday. The president even endorsed the day and movement by encouraging Americans to shop small.

The same year, the Small Business Saturday Coalition was formed. The group of small companies, municipalities, and nonprofit trade associations came together to keep promoting the benefits of shopping at local stores.

Photo Courtesy Mike Petrucci

A decade since it started, Small Business Saturday has turned a pretty penny. It has grown just about every year, with 2018 posting a then-record profit of $17.8 billion spent across 104 million small store shoppers. On the 10th anniversary in 2019, profits and shoppers increased even more, with $19.6 billion earned across 110 million shoppers. Last year was the most profitable one, with the 12th annual iteration bringing in $23.3 billion in sales. 

Participation increases every year, especially with the post-pandemic bounce. “We are thrilled to report that shoppers are increasingly making a conscious effort to Shop Small and support their local communities, and over the past 10 years, consumers reported spending an estimated total of more than $120 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, chief marketing officer for American Express.

Photo Courtesy Small Business Saturday

Why is it so important to shop locally? You’ve probably heard people saying that spending money at a big-box retailer doesn’t benefit the community like shopping at the corner drug store does. When you spend more money at a neighborhood shop, that money goes back into the community. For every dollar a customer pays at a small business, 67 cents stay in the local economy. That supports school programs, sports teams, charities, and town events. 

Consumers also strongly believe that Mom and Pops provide essential services. A 2019 survey found that 97% of Small Business Saturday shoppers think local shops are vital to community economic development.

The pub on Main Street, that quaint coffee shop that just opened, or the barbershop where you get your weekly haircut all have a role. They create a greater sense of togetherness and uplift a town’s economy. 

American Express has been committed to keeping these businesses afloat, spending close to $200 million during the pandemic on initiatives that helped these shops out. With active participation amongst consumers and growing profit margins each year, Small Business Saturday has made it easier for owners to mitigate some losses. It remains to be seen how the 2022 edition will perform, but the trend shows it should be profitable. 

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