Key takeaways

  • Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are major sales events that can drive sales and reach new customers for businesses
  • To participate in these holidays, businesses should consider their ideal customers and how they prefer to shop, as well as prepping ahead with discounts, creating a holiday guide, and providing a memorable shopping experience
  • Other holiday shopping days to consider include Black Friday, Super Saturday, and Pink Friday, which can also generate sales and attract customers

In the last quarter of every year, your business can participate in multiple holidays, connecting with customers in a fun way that also boosts sales. Specifically, Small Business Saturday can encourage customers to shop with your small business. And Cyber Monday pushes customers to make purchases with your business online. Consider how you can take advantage of these holidays to reach new customers and grow your business long-term.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a holiday shopping event that falls on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. It follows Black Friday and precedes Cyber Monday, making the weekend a whirlwind of happy holiday sales. In 2023, Small Business Saturday falls on November 25.

While the other days are focused on customers scoring the sweetest deals on gifts, appliances, tech and more, Small Business Saturday aims to generate buzz around the local community. This was the intended purpose for Small Business Saturday when American Express created the holiday back in 2010.

The shopping day also encourages people to shop online with small businesses, which 58 million Americans did last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday stands at the tail of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, landing on the Monday after Thanksgiving, as its name suggests. For 2023, that day happens to be November 27. On this shopping day, online stores advertise their holiday sales and deals with the emphasis being on online shopping. Some 77 million Americans did their shopping online on this day in 2022, states NRF.

Cyber Monday began in 2005 when the National Retail Federation used the term. According to Reader’s Digest, NRF staff thought busy parents were roaming the digital aisles for gifts while at work, leading to a rise in sales the Monday after Thanksgiving. Shoppers may also have holiday buying on the brain due to Thanksgiving and a weekend spent shopping already.

Not everyone partakes in the online frenzy on Cyber Monday — 22.6 million people shopped in stores on Cyber Monday last year, according to the NRF. That’s because many stores use Black Friday to jumpstart their holiday-focused shopping, continuing their sales season well into December.

Small Business Saturday vs. Cyber Monday

If you’re a business that operates online or mixes online and in-store sales, you could choose to promote yourself for Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, or both. But you want to decide which holiday will best benefit the customer and your business.

Based on Adobe’s 2022 holiday shopping data, shoppers spent $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday — higher than the $9.12 billion spent on Black Friday. Yet neither of those major sale days tops Small Business Saturday. According to American Express, shoppers spent a record-breaking $17.9 billion on Small Business Saturday in 2022.

However, think about the products you sell and how customers prefer to buy your products. For example, if your business sells large products like furniture, your customer might prefer buying online and having the furniture shipped to their home. If you sell food or treats, customers are most likely to buy from you in person.

Another factor for promoting these holidays is how you benefit your local community. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, for every $100 dollars customers spend at local businesses, $52.90 stays in the local community. With large chain businesses, the same $100 only keeps $13.60 in the local community.

How to prepare for Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday

Because many shoppers head out to stores on both of these days, you want to be prepared for the increase in foot traffic — or online customers. Some ways that you can prep ahead for the big weekend:

Plan your discounts

Find out what discounts your competitors might use, and set discounts on items to attract customers to buy that item.

According to Adobe’s holiday shopping data, by Thanksgiving prices were marked down for toys (-31.8%), electronics (-23.4%) and clothing (-13.8%). By mid-December, the prices were marked down 28.8% for toys, 22.6% for electronics and 17.3% for clothing.

Create a holiday guide

Help customers find your most popular products and buy bundles of products that go together. You can do so by suggesting products to buy in a well-designed gift guide. Then, you can email the guide or hand it out to customers coming to your store before the holidays.

Create an experience worth remembering

Think about how the customer experiences your store or business from beginning to end. Then, decide how you can boost that experience for the holidays. You might add decorations or revamp your website with cheerful holiday graphics. You could ensure that sales are posted clearly for shoppers to see.

You can also run giveaways, events or activities like having a picture taken with Santa. You might ship items in a festively designed box or gift-wrap the product inside the box. The point is to have fun with the holidays and balance that with the work that you do.

Look at your business financials

Any holiday events or activities that you plan need to fit into your business’s budget. Your biggest priority may be to keep your shelves stocked with products or the materials you need to make your products.

If you don’t have enough cash in reserve for the holiday rush, you might consider getting a loan to finance your holiday business purchases. Just make sure that you can fit the loan payments in your regular budget to avoid taking on too much debt.

Forecasting how much you expect to make in holiday sales will help inform how much funding you might need. You can use a business loan calculator to estimate the monthly loan repayments.

Fill and ship orders quickly

When the actual Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday roll around, keep yourself and some employees on standby to help make sales, fill orders bought online or overcome challenges, such as website technical issues if your site can’t handle the traffic. When customers buy online, custom or other products that need to be shipped, they may want to know the timelines.

But the holidays can make shipping times slower, so be sure to fill the orders as quickly as you can. If the item won’t be available until after Christmas, be honest with your customers about the late timing. Your goal is to create a five-star experience for them, encouraging them to come back or recommend your small business to others.

Other shopping days to consider

Not everyone takes the most traveled path to holiday shopping. Some people plan to get all their shopping done before Halloween, while others wait until the last minute and realize they still have gifts they need to buy.

According to Bankrate’s early holiday shopping survey, over 50 percent of holiday shoppers will get their shopping done by Halloween. Another 37 percent stick with November for their shopping, and 13 percent go down to the wire, shopping in December.

The point is that small businesses need to prepared for additional customers throughout the entire holiday season. Other holidays to keep in mind are:

Black Friday

Over 160 million people shopped on Black Friday in the U.S. in 2022, according to the National Retail Federation. It’s no secret that Black Friday is one of the most popular shopping days throughout the year, kicking off a season of sales that peak just before Christmas.

Particularly, people wait for Black Friday to score a sale on technology, appliances, clothing, home and exercise products. According to Adobe’s 2022 holiday shopping report, here are the discounts for specific items on Black Friday:

  • Toys (33.4% off)
  • Electronics (23.6%)
  • Computers (17.2%)
  • Clothing (15.7%)
  • Appliances (14.2%)
  • Televisions (12.8%)
  • Sporting goods (7.4%)
  • Furniture (5.5%)

Super Saturday

Super Saturday is the last Saturday before Christmas when many people rush to buy their final gifts for the season. According to Total Retail, 189 million people shopped on Super Saturday in 2022. A good 71 percent of those shoppers purchased last-minute gifts on this day.

The takeaway: don’t slack on keeping your products and shelves stocked just because Christmas day is getting close. People will keep shopping up until the holiday, and even in the days after the holiday.

Pink Friday

Pink Friday is another small business shopping day designed to support boutique shops. The day happens about one week before Thanksgiving weekend, giving boutique shops time to prepare for the holiday shopping season. This year, Pink Friday lands on Nov 17, 2023.

Pink Friday began in November 2020 and has been promoted by Boutique Hub each year since. Over 5,000 stores participated in the first Pink Friday, according to NBC DFW. While you could participate on your own, the day is meant for collaboration among boutique shops. You can sign up to join the movement and get added to the shop small map through Boutique Hub.

Boutique shops celebrate the day by decking out their shops with pink decor like balloons and pink products or packaging. They also discount their products, encouraging customers to shop small with them.

Bottom line

Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are both major sales events that can drive sales and reach new customers. But which one you choose depends on how customers find you and the products you sell.

Businesses that operate both a local and online store could participate in both events. Stores that are strictly brick-and-mortar may want to focus on Small Business Saturday, while online-only businesses will put their focus on Cyber Monday.

Either way, make sure you’ve prepped ahead and that your business finances are in order to help you make quick decisions to maximize holiday sales.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes, small businesses can participate in Cyber Monday. Many shoppers still shop in-store on this day, but the sales event is focused on online sales. You’ll benefit the most if you can promote your business to local and online communities, encouraging them to shop on your website or e-commerce store for Cyber Monday.
  • Small businesses participate in Cyber Monday by offering sales and deals to customers shopping online. On Cyber Monday in 2022, stores discounted electronics, toys and clothing the most, according to Adobe’s holiday shopping report. Following close behind were household tech items like appliances, computers and televisions.
  • During the holiday season, shoppers are primarily looking for sales and gifts. You could think through the most popular items in your shop and how you might be able to keep those in stock and offer competitive discounts. The discounts can encourage customers to shop with you over a different store. Responding to customer inquiries quickly and shipping orders as fast as possible can also help you enhance the customer experience. Also, consider little touches like premium gift wrapping or holiday packaging.