What’s next for Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday, held on November 24, saw a jump in year-over-year revenues, but customer traffic slid for the third straight year.
An estimated 104 million U.S. consumers shopped or dined at local, independently-owned businesses on the day, down from 108 million in 2017 and 112 million in 2016, according to the wrap-up survey from American Express and National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
John McLaughlin, a spokesman for NFIB, told RetailWire that some leveling off in traffic was expected given that the initiative is in its ninth year and 70 percent of Americans show awareness of the event.
The day may also be facing similar issues that are depressing store traffic on Black Friday including the shift to online buying and the spreading of more deals throughout the holiday selling season.
Other indicators point to a beneficial day for independents:
- An estimated $17.8 billion was spent on the day, rebounding from $12.9 billion in 2017. Average reported spending per person bounced back and is now on par with levels a few years ago. The previous peak for the day was $16.2 billion, spent in 2015;
- A new survey of small business owners with storefronts found 59 percent agreeing Small Business Saturday contributes significantly to their holiday sales each year;
- Among consumers who shopped small on the day, 42 percent shopped with family and friends, 83 percent encouraged others to shop or dine small, 41 percent shopped small online and 96 percent said the day makes them want to Shop Small all year long.
The increase in average spend may have been helped by efforts by small business owners as 66 percent indicated they were planning promotions, sales or activities following Thanksgiving to support holiday spending.
The day is also being helped by growth in the number of “Neighborhood Champions” or local community organizers that orchestrate holiday pop-up markets, shopping passport programs, sleigh rides and other local initiatives to drive traffic. More organizations are joining the Small Business Saturday Coalition to support similar efforts. This year saw an 18 percent jump in social media posts and more shoutouts from elected officials.
- Shoppers Report Record High Spending of an Estimated $17.8 Billion on Small Business Saturday 2018 – National Federation of Independent Business/Business Wire
- An Estimated Four-in-Ten (43%) American Adults Shopped or Dined Small on Small Business Saturday – National Federation of Independent Business/Business Wire
- Small Business Saturday Results: 112 Million Consumers Shop and Dine Small on Small Business Saturday – More Than Ever Before – American Express
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Small Business Saturday need a reinvention? Are the traffic declines worrisome or should they be expected at this point? Should organizers and small businesses alter their strategies to shift the marketing focus beyond raising awareness?