Why Small Business Saturday is a hit with holiday shoppers

Nov 25, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm

An employee takes inventory at a small shop....

An employee takes inventory at a small shop.(The Good Brigade/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

(The Good Brigade/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

New York CNN  — While retail giants like Amazon and Walmart hope for big profits from Black Friday, the less-heralded Small Business Saturday is looking to continue its winning streak for the nearly 32 million small businesses riding a wave of enthusiastic consumer spending and robust government investment.

According to a new American Express survey of small business owners, “55% anticipate Small Business Saturday will make a significant contribution to their overall holiday sales this year.” In a consumer survey conducted by the company in October, half of respondents said they plan to participate in the upcoming Small Business Saturday, and 85% said they anticipated shopping small this holiday season.

Over the past 13 years, the company says consumers have reported spending nearly $184 billion during Small Business Saturday. In a survey conducted by American Express after last year’s Small Business Saturday, 72% of shoppers said that the campaign made them want to shop and dine at small, independent retailers throughout the year. American Express estimated that Small Business Saturday drove nearly $18 billion in consumer spending last year.

Donnell Johns, who runs Veterans Growing America, an organization that supports veteran- and military-spouse-owned small businesses, said that Small Business Saturday is valuable because it creates an awareness for shopping small. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in the amount of people who come out and support small businesses over the last several years,” he said.

For Ken Moorman, founder of Jirani Coffeehouse in Manassas, Virginia, Small Business Saturday means an average 10% uptick in sales than a typical Saturday.

“Prior to Covid, (Small Business Saturday) was huge, and it started to pick back up last year,” Moorman said, adding that he expects even more participation this year. “We all know small businesses are the heartbeat of America. One time of the year, it’s great to remind everybody: Don’t forget the little guy.”

American Express founded the Small Business Saturday campaign in 2010 to encourage holiday shoppers to support local small businesses. It has become a mom-and-pop counterpart to Black Friday, which is often dominated by huge national and multinational corporations. The Small Business Administration has co-sponsored the initiative since 2011, and new federal data indicates that this year’s holiday comes at a particularly good time for small independent entrepreneurs.

“American Express has been a long-time advocate for small businesses – we work to deeply understand them and meet their evolving needs. We also understand the impact shopping small has on supporting local communities through our annual Small Business Saturday and year-round Shop Small campaigns,” Elizabeth Rutledge, American Express’ chief marketing officer, said in a news release last week. “We hope Small Business Saturday and this year’s interactive experience excite and engage shoppers across the country during the kickoff to the important holiday shopping season.”

In a news release Tuesday, the SBA announced it had invested nearly $50 billion to support American small businesses in fiscal year 2023. The SBA said it helped lend $27.5 billion in 7(a) loans; its core lending initiative. In total, the SBA backed more than 57,300 7(a) loans with a maximum of $5 million per loan. In an indication that the somewhat vulnerable small business sector is recovering, 7(a) loans are now above pre-pandemic levels.

“Starting and running a business takes tremendous grit and determination, but it also takes capital — something too many enterprising Americans have historically been unable to obtain equitably and affordably,” SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said Tuesday in a statement. “The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to simplifying and addressing persistent inequities in accessing capital to ensure all small business owners can get the funding needed to grow and create jobs for our economy … As we build on our progress, the SBA will continue to prioritize reforms that will help level the playing field to further the small business boom fostered by Bidenomics.”

The SBA also said it made headway this past year in supporting minority-owned small businesses.

According to the new federal data, both the number and dollar-value of loan to Black-owned businesses have doubled under the Biden administration. In fiscal year 2023 alone, the SBA insured 4,700 of these loans totaling $1.5 billion. That’s in addition to 7,700 loans to small businesses owned by Latinos, 7,500 to those owned by Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and 500 to those run by indigenous Americans.

The SBA also backed $5 billion dollars worth of loans for women-owned businesses, and $1.2 billion for veteran-owned ones.

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Why Small Business Saturday is a hit with holiday shoppers