Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent two of the busiest days of the holiday shopping season. But in between them lies an opportunity for small-business owners to claim a share of holiday shoppers’ budgets.

Small Business Saturday is a way to celebrate small-business owners and what they contribute to their local communities.

And Small Business Saturday 2022 could be one of the most significant yet for locally-owned businesses. According to a November 2022 Bankrate survey, nearly 6 in 10 holiday shoppers (59 percent) are likely to shop on Small Business Saturday—even more than those who expect to shop on Black Friday (56 percent). And Deloitte projects that holiday sales will grow between 4 percent and 6 percent this year, with consumers expected to spend more than $1.45 trillion from November to January 2022.

If you own a business, these tips can help you prepare for Small Business Saturday success.

What is Small Business Saturday?

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 as an effort to garner community support for small businesses during one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year. The next year, the Senate passed a resolution in support of the holiday.

Momentum for Small Business Saturday has grown each year since. According to American Express, U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday last year spent an estimated $23.3 billion. Collectively, American Express estimates that consumers have spent more than $163 billion supporting small businesses since the event’s inception.

Small businesses benefit from increased sales during the holiday season, which then benefits the communities they occupy. According to American Express, 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business — whether it’s a retail store, restaurant or another company — stays in the community.

When is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday always falls on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which lands on Nov. 26 this year. It’s scheduled this way so that small-business owners have an opportunity to compete with larger brands as consumers get their holiday shopping underway.

How to participate in Small Business Saturday

American Express Small Business Saturday is designed to promote small businesses of all kinds, from brick-and-mortar businesses to online shops. In fact, Small Business Saturday has become more digital-friendly in recent years.

You don’t need to sign up or register your business to participate in the event. If you want to promote the event, you can do so with free marketing materials from American Express. This includes downloadable materials you can use to advertise Small Business Saturday online or in-store, including:

  • Posters and other signage that include Small Business Saturday quotes
  • Social media post graphics and copy
  • Customizable decals

The Shop Small Map makes it easy for consumers to find businesses that participate in Small Business Saturday. You can ask to be added to the map if you meet these requirements:

  • Your business accepts American Express cards as a form of payment.
  • You’re located in the 50 states, District of Columbia or a U.S. territory.
  • You have at least one but no more than 25 locations and no more than $5 million in American Express annual charge volume.
  • You’re not part of a franchise brand that has more than 250 stores; Additionally, if a franchise brand has more than 25 corporate-owned stores, then the entire brand is excluded.
  • Your business isn’t in an excluded industry.

Small Business Saturday ideas for 2022

If you’re hoping to capitalize on Small Business Saturday this year, getting a head start on planning can help. But regardless of when you begin preparing, there are certain things you can do to make the most of this event.

1. Download the free marketing materials

American Express makes it easy to promote Small Business Saturday by providing you with the marketing tools to do it. So if you haven’t downloaded them from the Small Business Saturday website yet, that’s a good place to start.

You can also ask to have your business added to the Shop Small map. If you’re already featured on the map, review your listing to make sure it’s up to date.

2. Get your physical (or virtual) storefront ready

If you’re banking on Small Business Saturday driving in a flood of customers, then it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to welcome them, either in-person or online.

For example, if you run a brick-and-mortar boutique, start by checking the layout. It should be easy for customers to navigate their way through your store while observing social distancing requirements.

Merchandising and displays also matter for drawing attention to the items you want to sell. And your point of sale system should be running smoothly so there are no snafus when you have a line of customers waiting to check out.

You’ll want to run similar stress tests if you operate an online storefront. Check your site to ensure items you want to sell are highlighted appropriately and the checkout is working. Be on the lookout for broken links or bugs that could turn shoppers away.

3. Take part in a local Small Business Saturday event

Joining a local Small Business Saturday event can help boost your business’s visibility and potentially lead to more sales.

There are two ways you can approach this. The first is looking for Small Business Saturday happenings in your local community. Local organizations, including small business nonprofits and chambers of commerce, often sponsor Small Business Saturday events.

American Express maintains a list of Neighborhood Champions, which are organizations that support Small Business Saturday and shopping locally. You can search for Neighborhood Champions in your area through the Small Business Saturday website. If you don’t see a champion in your city, consider reaching out to popular shopping areas or markets about becoming one.

The other idea is to host a Small Business Saturday event of your own. For example, you could organize a charity event to raise funds for a good cause while encouraging customers to shop with your business. Or you might consider a cross-promotion with another small business.

4. Launch your holiday sales promotions

Just as big-box stores use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to promote sales, you can do the same to attract customers on Small Business Saturday. First, decide what type of promotion you want to offer. For example, you might consider:

  • Buy one (or two), get one free promotions
  • Offering certain items at a discount
  • Throwing in a freebie or two with a purchase
  • Hosting a raffle or contest

When planning Small Business Saturday sales, keep an eye on the bottom line. Slashing prices, for example, could help you compete with bigger-name retailers, but it could also shrink your profit margins. So think carefully about how to craft sales promotions so you aren’t sacrificing revenue to get people in the door.

Also, consider how you can keep customers coming back once Small Business Saturday ends. Collecting email addresses for a raffle, for instance, gives you a pathway to continue marketing to customers after the holiday shopping season draws to a close.

5. Fine-tune your marketing plans

Putting up signs in-store or on your website to let shoppers know about Small Business Saturday and other holiday sales is a good start. But there’s more you can do to market your business throughout the season. That might include:

  • Sending out email newsletters
  • Promoting Small Business Saturday sales on your own social media
  • Investing in newspaper, social media or TV ads
  • Setting up a cross-promotion with another business

When planning how to market your business during the holidays, consider what could give you the best return for your money to make sure your spending counts.

Don’t let Small Business Saturday pass you by

Small Business Saturday comes just once a year, so it’s important to make the most of it. Putting these strategies to work can help your small business thrive during the holiday season and all year round.