Black Friday marks the start of one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. Small Business Saturday, which is always the last Saturday in November, is an American shopping holiday intended to support small businesses.
How Small Business Saturday Got its Start
American Express recently reported consumers had spent an estimated total of more than $120 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday over the past ten years. They launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 to help small businesses gain exposure and inspire consumers to shop within their communities during the holiday season.
Why You Should Shop Local
This year, more than ever, small businesses need your support. Your local businesses and mom and pop shops are the bread and butter of our economy. These are the businesses that have been hurt the most during this year’s Coronavirus pandemic. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports the number of active business owners in the United States plummeted by 3.3 million — or 22% — between February to April 2020. Even more restaurants, salons, and shops have shuttered since then.
While so many small businesses have closed and may never reopen, others are still hanging on and desperately need their communities to support them. So, shop at your neighborhood store and local bakery, or buy a handmade product from your favorite online small business.
Remember, in addition to helping schools through the taxes they pay, small businesses are often the ones that support your local sports teams, charities, and community events. They are also more likely to hire locally than retail chains.
How Local Small Businesses are Getting Creative During the Pandemic
We understand you may be hesitant to venture out this year. Your local businesses get it too. That’s why they are getting creative this year, innovating and incentivizing their community members to shop. They want to see you and will do what it takes to win your business.
In addition to implementing safety measures, such as installing Plexiglas barriers between staff and customers and making hand sanitizer widely available throughout stores, here are some ways that small businesses have innovated to drive sales and increase loyalty:
- Senior hours. Many stores reserve the first 1-2 hours of the morning for senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals so they can shop safely.
- Livestreamed art shows. Galleries and arts and crafts shops (e.g., glass blowers, gemologists, and pottery studios) are livestreaming as a way to provide tours, educate individuals about their craft, and generate revenue.
- Live online classes and camps. Countless classes are being offered online for adults and kids of all ages. For example, Princeton Adult School is offering their entire curriculum online right now, and Outschool is a great resource for giving kids ages 3-18 access to fun, social, and safe learning.
- Virtual tours. Museums, zoos and aquariums have been successfully offering virtual tours since the pandemic started.
- Expanded offerings. Small businesses are expanding their offerings and innovating wherever possible. For example, some craft shops and seamstresses now sell masks. Local restaurants may offer small grocery markets stocked with fresh produce and meats.
- Contactless curbside pickup. Order your goods online or by phone, drive up to the store or restaurant at a pre-determined time, and an employee will place your bags directly in your trunk.
- Contactless delivery. Order and pay in advance, and your food and goods are left at your front door, with no need for you to see a delivery person.
- Appointments by request. Many boutique shops and bakeries are accepting appointments as a way to limit the number of shoppers in the store at the same time, and give people confidence they can shop safely.
- Extended return timelines. Stores are allowing longer lead times for returns, understanding that consumers are having a hard time getting to the mall, shops, and the post office.
- Upgraded technology. Many businesses have invested in their technology, upgrading their websites to include online shops and even offering a live chat feature that make it easier for people to shop and ask questions.
- Virtual meetings and consultations. Telehealth, video calls, and telesales are replacing face-to-face meetings.
- A new way to socialize. Team building companies have introduced virtual team-building activities. They mail activity kits to team members in advance and facilitate team building exercises and games via Zoom or other video conferencing applications.
The Society for Human Resource Management reports that “75% of small-business owners are confident that their business will be better prepared to handle a crisis like COVID-19 if it occurred in the future.” But that’s only if they can survive this year’s crisis.
Whether you shop on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, small businesses need your support now. Shop local.