Size shouldn't matter, but for small businesses, size often indicates an unavoidable disadvantage. By nature, big box stores have the ability to slash prices and advertise deals in ways that small businesses simply can't afford. Yet, these smaller shops commonly serve as the backbone for many prosperous communities, providing jobs to local citizens and giving back to those in need. Thus, in 2010, American Express launched its Small Business Saturday event to garner consumer awareness and support for these local establishments.Each year, American Express also releases its Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, which explores consumers' shopping intentions for the upcoming season. Conducted in partnership with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, this year's study shows that supporting local small businesses continues to be a priority for shoppers nationwide. While 77 percent of consumers are planning to "shop small" this holiday season, 83 percent say Small Business Saturday inspires them to "shop small" all year long. The following statistics further demonstrate increased consumer support for local retailers:
- Eighty percent of consumers are willing to pay slightly more for items purchased from small, independently owned retailers as opposed to online shops or large retailers.
- Forty-five percent of consumers plan to spend more on Small Business Saturday this year than they spent last year, as those polled plan to do 35 percent of their holiday shopping at small businesses.
- Sixty-four percent of Small Business Saturday shoppers are motivated by the contributions these retailers make to their community.
But, while Small Business Saturday has certainly helped these shops gain the attention they deserve, Sarah Matista, marketing communications manager for Vistaprint Digital Services, emphasizes that these retailers can't depend upon this holiday to revive sales entirely. "The only real drawback of Small Business Saturday is a possible false sense of security," she explains. "If businesses rely on the holiday to put them in the black for the year, they may be sorely disappointed. While traffic will likely increase on the holiday itself, to think that's the end goal is missing the point. Unlike Black Friday, the goal of Small Business Saturday is to create awareness and increase traffic for local businesses year-round, not to rescue slumping sales in a single day."
"Shop local" and "eat local" movements have certainly helped boost small business success, Matista adds, as such grassroots efforts appeal to the notion that where we shop says something about who we are, but embracing small business has far greater benefits than making one feel good. When consumers shop at locally owned businesses, $68 of every $100 spent stays within the community, as opposed to $43 of every $100 spent at national chains. Buying from local retailers also serves as you "vote" on what you'd like to see them carry, thereby giving the consumers' voice far greater power than any bog box chain ever could. Ultimately, we have to remember back to yesteryear. We must remember that small businesses provide value beyond that of the dollar. We need to understand that we're the key to keeping these cornerstone businesses alive for generations to come.