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 the Coronavirus pandemic. As of this week, the Tracker showed there were 37.5% fewer small businesses open nationwide compared with January 2020, two months before the pandemic hit the United States.
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 Trying to Keep You Safe While You Shop
Local businesses understood that consumers were hesitant to venture out last year, and many business owners implemented creative strategies to ensure the community would continue to shop with them. Today, even as the world opens back up and individuals become more comfortable visiting some brick and mortar shops, online shopping is more popular than ever. Some of the creative strategies small business owners implemented last year to incentivize their community members to shop remain in place.
You’ll still find Plexiglas barriers between staff and customers in most retail stores. Hand sanitizer and cart wipes remain widely available throughout stores, and cleaning protocols remains strict. Here are some additional ways that small businesses have innovated to drive sales and increase loyalty:
- Senior hours. Some local stores continue to 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) began livestreaming as a way to provide tours, educate individuals about their craft, and generate revenue. It worked so well that many artists have continued livestreaming.
- 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 and many continue to do so, even offering special education opportunities to individuals and schools.
- Expanded offerings. Small businesses are expanding their offerings and innovating wherever possible. For example, it’s common to find a variety of masks at your local craft shop and convenience store.
- Contactless curbside pickup. Many restaurants and retailers have continued offering 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 scheduled appointments last year, as a way to limit the number of shoppers in the store at the same time and give people confidence they can shop safely. While stores are now back to 100% capacity, some shops continue to offer appointments for nervous customers.
- 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 continue to replace 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.
Whether you shop on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, small businesses need your support now. Shop local.