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What is Small Business Saturday?

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Key takeaways

  • Small Business Saturday is a popular shopping event that falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, aimed at encouraging shoppers to support local and small businesses
  • Small businesses create more jobs and boost the local economy, making it beneficial to support them during the holiday season
  • Small business owners can finance their holiday expenses through various options such as business loans, lines of credit or invoice financing

Small Business Saturday is one of the largest shopping events for small businesses that you’ll find all year long. Last year, it was the second most popular day to go shopping on Thanksgiving weekend, according to data from the National Retail Federation. It’s typically second only to Black Friday, and we all know how popular Black Friday shopping events are.

Small Business Saturday sandwiches between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combining for a holiday shopping extravaganza that lasts the weekend and beyond into December. But unlike other shopping holidays, Small Business Saturday is meant to be more about supporting local and small businesses and less about finding the best deals.

Small Business Saturday statistics

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  • In 2022, 63.4 million in-store shoppers shopped on Small Business Saturday, up from 51 million in 2021. (National Retail Federation)
  • 55 percent of all US adults are likely to shop on Small Business Saturday this year, up from 52 percent in 2022. (Bankrate Small Business Saturday survey)
  • There are 33.2 million small businesses in America, which account for 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
  • Small businesses generated 12.9 million net new jobs over the past 25 years, accounting for two out of every three jobs added to the economy. (U.S. Small Business Administration).
  • An estimated $17.9 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday in 2022. (American Express)
  • Last year, 121.4 million people took to shopping on Small Business Saturday. (National Retail Federation)
  • 57 percent of shoppers surveyed make it a point to shop at local businesses for Small Business Saturday. (National Today)

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday that aims to encourage holiday shoppers to support local businesses, which are the little-known drivers of the American economy. This year, Small Business Saturday is on Nov 25, 2023. The event is promoted nationwide, and shoppers connect with small businesses online or by going to local stores. According to a recent Bankrate Small Business Saturday survey, 41 percent of US adults plan to holiday shop in-person at a small business, while 36 percent say they will shop online via a small business small business.

History of Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 by American Express to invite holiday shoppers to support small businesses across the U.S. The event tries to boost small businesses’ profits during a time when most shoppers are already buying gifts, food and decor for the holidays.

Each year, American Express campaigns for customers to shop small businesses, dubbing it the Shop Small campaign. The credit card issuer also provides resources and support for small businesses as they prep for the holiday.

As of 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration also sponsors Small Business Saturday. The SBA promotes Small Business Saturday on its website as well as other events to support small businesses throughout the year.

5 reasons to shop small businesses

Shopping with small businesses has a much different experience than going to a major franchise. Why? Individual store owners can shine their unique creativity and value for customers to see.

Here’s a look at some of the many reasons you might choose small businesses for your shopping:

  • Boost local economy. Shopping with local businesses keeps more money in the local economy, helping local businesses to grow. According to American Express, every dollar spent at local businesses adds an additional $0.48 because it encourages more people to buy local. That means for every $100 spent, you’re helping to add another $48 to the local community.
  • Create more jobs. Small businesses actually create more jobs for workers than large businesses. In fact, two out of every three jobs created over the past 25 years have been from small businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Keep small business doors open. By spending money on a small business, shoppers could be helping to keep the business open. In 2022, shoppers spent $4.9 trillion on retail purchases, a 7 percent year-on-year growth, according to the National Retail Federation’s State of Retail survey.
  • Better customer service.  54 percent of holiday shoppers say that small businesses provide better customer service than large businesses.
  • Find custom items you can’t find elsewhere. Local and small businesses tend to choose unique products to display and sell in their stores. In many cases, you’ll also find custom or handmade items.

How to make the most of Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday can generate a lot of buzz around your small business. If you create the right impressions, you could build relationships with customers who will return to your store time and time again.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of Small Business Saturday:

  • Plan the activities and sales for Small Business Saturday
  • Use social media to increase brand awareness
  • Coordinate giveaways or sales with other businesses
  • Run a marketing campaign for the sales or events you have planned
  • Use free resources and marketing materials from American Express
  • Create a gift or holiday guide

How to finance Small Business Saturday and other holiday expenses

Getting ready for the holidays as a business can entail a variety of costs, including hiring seasonal staff or stocking up on extra inventory. If you don’t have the revenue on hand to make purchases (called working capital), you can opt for a business loan for the extra cash. Here are some of the best options to consider when looking for a small business loan.

  • A term loan is a business loan with payments over a specific time, such as two or five years. The payments include paying back the amount borrowed plus interest and other loan fees. The interest may be charged as either fixed or variable interest. Variable interest means that the interest rate can change over time according to the lending market.Many lenders ask you to name the use of the funds when applying. So you might want this type of loan when you know the amount and purpose for which you’ll use the funding.
  • A business line of credit is a revolving type of credit that you can draw from at any time, up to the credit limit set by the lender. The credit limit is essentially the maximum amount you can borrow.This type of loan works the same as a credit card, except that you may have a higher credit limit depending on the lender. You might consider this loan if you know you’ll need access to extra cash but don’t know the exact amount or purpose of the loan.
  • A business credit card works well to use for nearly any purchase up to the available credit limit set by the card issuer. Most business credit cards also come with rewards. It’s also a great option if you’re trying to build credit and avoid interest charges (as long as you pay your balance in full each month).
  • Invoice financing and factoring are both alternative types of business financing. These base the amount of money you’re eligible to borrow on the amount of unpaid client invoices you have. The company then advances up to 90 percent of your unpaid invoices. You pay the financing company back and pay any fees when your client pays the invoice.With invoice factoring, the factoring company actually buys your invoices from you and takes over the collection process. The main downside is that many financing companies charge fees based on how long the invoice is unpaid. So if your client takes extra time to pay, you’ll likely pay higher fees.
  • Purchase order financing is another alternative type of business financing available if your business sells products through customers’ purchase orders. This financing is helpful if you get a large purchase order that your company usually wouldn’t be able to handle based on lack of capital.With this type of loan, the financing company pays your suppliers directly and takes payment from your customers. It then pays you the leftover amount after taking out fees. If you notice a steady increase in sales after a large purchase, you may want to consider keeping more products or raw materials on hand to fill your customers’ orders without needing financing.

Bottom line

Small Business Saturday is a shopping event meant for customers to take their holiday shopping lists to their local and small businesses. Small businesses may see increased sales because of the holiday and gain returning customers, especially if they promote themselves well. The main concern that businesses should consider is how to promote themselves and what products they need to have on hand to ensure their success.

Frequently asked questions

  • Small Business Saturday is meant to promote small businesses, either to the local community surrounding them or to an online customer base. The goal is to boost the amount of sales streaming to small businesses, the backbone of the American economy.
  • Small businesses promote their sales and holiday events for Small Business Saturday. They may need to order more inventory or create more products to handle the big shopping event. On Small Business Saturday, customers can choose which small businesses they would like to go to make their holiday purchases.
  • To make Small Business Saturday a success for your business, you can offer:
    • Discounts on products, like 15 percent off
    • Discounts for buying several products
    • Giveaways, either free or if the customer makes a purchase
    • Complimentary gift wrapping
    • Personalized customer service