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- Small Business Saturday and Black Friday 2023 present two opportunities for small businesses to run sales and promotions to attract customers and boost revenue
- Purchasing intent is high among consumers during the post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend, extending into Cyber Monday
- While Black Friday is undeniably big, Small Business Saturday offers the chance to remind consumers that their dollar has the power to improve their communities
As a small business, every sale counts. And that can make major shopping holidays like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday exciting. Since consumers are already in the mindset to spend, you have an opportunity to grab their attention and drive sales.
The problem? Shoppers usually expect steep discounts. As a result, Black Friday small business participation can come with a serious downside. So, is Black Friday worth it, or would you be better served focusing on Small Business Saturday 2023? We built this guide to help you decide for your unique business.
What is Black Friday?
Some people may think Black Friday refers to businesses operating in the black (bringing in a profit) thanks to increased consumer spending. Actually, Black Friday got its name from the headache it caused for Philadelphia police forces in the 1950s and 60s.
People flocked to the City of Brotherly Love that Friday each year to start shopping — and to prepare to attend the annual Army-Navy football game that usually took place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The resulting traffic jams, shoplifting and other issues inspired police personnel to dub the day Black Friday. By the late 1980s, the name was in use across the country.
Black Friday 2023 falls on November 24.
On that date, retailers can expect lots of shoppers and lots of spending. Last year, even with fears of a recession lingering, the National Retail Federation reported more than 160 million shoppers turned out on Black Friday (72.9 million shopped in-store while 87.2 million shopped online). All of that shopping added up to $9.12 billion in retailer revenue for Black Friday 2022.
A lot of that purchasing was driven by deep discounts, which can be challenging for small businesses. So is Black Friday worth it? It depends.
Pros and cons of Black Friday
To help you decide if you should dive in, let’s look at some upsides and drawbacks of Black Friday small business participation.
- Lots of shoppers looking for products and services
- High intent to buy among those shoppers (as evidenced by lower-than-average shopping cart abandonment)
- Good timing to turn over inventory before the start of a new calendar year
- Plenty of time to get shipped orders delivered in time for Christmas
- Shoppers expect major discounts
- Risk of overstocking and overstaffing if shoppers don’t show up and spend as expected
- Lots of competition from other retailers offering discounts and promotions
What is Small Business Saturday?
We have American Express to thank for Small Business Saturday. The company started the initiative back in 2010. Today, it’s grown thanks to partnerships with the Small Business Administration (SBA), Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and more than 32 million participating small businesses.
Last year, 72 percent of polled shoppers said Small Business Saturday made them want to support local, independent retailers, restaurants and more. And they put their money where their mouth is, to the tune of $17.9 billion spent on the shopping holiday in 2022.
Pros and cons of Small Business Saturday
If you’re thinking about diving in with Small Business Saturday 2023, consider the following:
- It can generate brand loyalty from conscientious consumers committed to shopping small
- Less expectation for huge discounts because some shoppers understand those can be hard for small businesses
- Support from the SBA and AmEx in the form of small business maps and marketing resources
- Can be tough for every small business owner to stock and staff for one main day
- Increased stress budgeting and planning for a successful event
Black Friday vs. Small Business Saturday
While Black Friday is undeniably the bigger shopping holiday, Small Business Saturday does offer some upside in that it’s specifically tailored to independent, local companies. It’s essentially a chance to capitalize on national goodwill and draw in shoppers who want to help their communities.
In fact, you could even advertise to your shoppers that for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., $0.68 stays in the local community (per the American Express 2022 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey). That’s $68 for every $100 spent. On the flip side, by some estimates, just $43 of every $100 spent at big box stores stays local.
So while Black Friday 2023 might offer the chance for major retailers to make a big buck by slashing prices, Small Business Saturday offers a different path forward. For the shopper, it’s less about savings and more about thoughtful purchasing. And as a small business owner, it’s a chance to remind consumers that their dollar has the power to improve their own communities.
Other shopping days to consider
Black Friday and Small Business Saturday 2023 are not the only shopping days coming up. Roughly half of consumers have already started their holiday shopping and they likely won’t stop until the new year. In addition to Small Business Saturday and Black Friday, your small business might also want to consider jumping in with:
The Monday after Thanksgiving has quickly become the biggest e-commerce day of the year. In 2023, Cyber Monday falls on November 27.
Consumers actually spent more on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday last year ($11.3 billion vs. $9.12 billion). If you want to get in on the hype, make sure you have a good e-commerce setup, including one that functions on mobile devices, which accounted for 55 percent of online sales during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend last year. Then, continue any Black Friday/Small Business Saturday promotion through Monday. You may also want to consider adding a “buy now, pay later” option. Revenue using that service rose by 88 percent last year.
Many folks start knocking out their holiday shopping right after Thanksgiving. But what about the procrastinators? This one’s for them. Super Saturday falls on the last Saturday before Christmas — that’s December 23 this year.
According to an International Council of Shopping Centers survey, 189 million consumers made this last-minute dash last year. If you want to cater to them, offer the option to buy online and pick up in-store since about half of Super Saturday shoppers chose that route last year.
From Black Friday on, the last six or so weeks of the year offer plenty of opportunities for small businesses to get their products in front of shoppers with a high purchasing intent. But because those shoppers often expect hefty discounts on Black Friday, leaning into Small Business Saturday might make more sense for your bottom line.
Frequently asked questions
No, and even if something looks like a deal, it might not be. Some retailers post fake list prices so they can give the appearance of offering a steep discount. Shopping around and avoiding the temptation to rush-purchase to score a good deal can help consumers truly save.
Electronics and accessories topped the list last year. Generally, shoppers tend to make Black Friday purchases in the categories of electronics, toys, apparel, sporting goods, furniture and appliances.
Small Business Saturday is aimed at directing shoppers toward local, independent businesses they can support. AmEx and the SBA partner together to offer support for participating businesses, including a national map consumers can use to find small businesses and free marketing resources.