Small Business Saturday is coming. It’s an annual event on the first Saturday of December, and it is all about championing the high street and supporting small businesses.
The event was started in the US by American Express and has now been held here in the UK for nine years. Its goals are simple: to raise awareness of smaller independent businesses, encourage collaboration, drive traffic to them and help them survive and thrive in a challenging environment. Along with American Express, the event has several other high-profile supporters, including BT, Cisco and Facebook.
The UK has around 5.5 million small businesses – 389,000 less than in 2020, so small businesses need our support. They employ almost 50% of people here in the UK and turnover £1.6 trillion, making a valuable contribution to our economy.
The high streets have already changed due to the growth of e-commerce by the time Covid confined consumers to their homes. Over the last two years, larger online retailers have cleaned up – Amazon’s profits increased by almost 200% as we ordered deliveries to our door, and small independent retailers struggled, with nearly 50 shops closing a day. It’s not just the retail sector that was hit – independent hospitality businesses also suffered, along with many other small organisations working across a range of industries. Brexit is now causing further disruption with delayed deliveries, rising costs and worker shortages. Small Business Saturday is, therefore, an opportunity to support this diverse and dynamic sector.
Do your run a small business?
If you run a small business, you can get involved by registering and advertising on the Small Business Finder – it’s free. Download a logo and share on your social media and in your premises to encourage customers. You can partner with other small businesses in your area to help each other and help spread the message to others through cross-marketing. There’s a marketing pack to help with this. By using the right hashtags, you can get support from the social media channels promoting the event, raising awareness of your business and the broader campaign.
Do you use small businesses?
From a consumer point of view, it can mean making small but straightforward changes – get your morning coffee from an independent coffee shop rather than the international chain.
Buy your meat or vegetables from the local market or butcher rather than one of the supermarkets. Start your Christmas shopping with local retailers rather than buying online. And it’s not just about shopping – every business you deal with, from your car mechanic to your gym, is either a large chain or a small independent.
Of course, we should be doing this all year round – but the organisers are realistic about the allure of convenience and cost savings provided by larger businesses. By bringing small businesses together to work as one, the event aims to remind us to switch our habits, offer our support on the Saturday itself, and then maybe for the long-term.