Published On: Sat, Nov 24th, 2018

Small Business Saturday isn’t a novelty anymore – independent retailers depend on it

For Mackenzi Farquer, Small Business Saturday is a big deal.

The owner of Queens, New York-based Lockwood gift shop, which sells kitchenware, clothing and paper goods, says there’s often barely room to stand in her locations on the retail holiday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“It’s our busiest day of the year,” Farquer says. “I think people in this neighborhood especially are trained to know that this the day to come out and shop at small businesses. They are not only coming for holiday shopping, they also want to be here to support us.”

And those shoppers show their support in a big way—that day alone accounts for some 8 percent of Lockwood’s overall holiday sales. “It’s at a fever pitch and growing every year,” she says.

Small Business Saturday, now in its ninth year, is sponsored by American Express and encourages consumers to get out and shop “small” supporting local retailers and restaurants in person and online. Last year, nearly $13 billion was spent on that day alone, a slight dip from 2016.

This year, data from Amex and the National Federation of Independent Business finds some 83 percent of consumers say they plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping at a small independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person, or online. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers nationwide say they are aware of the shopping holiday, and among them, 80 percent plan to shop at independent retailers that day.

Meanwhile, data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey’s Small Business Saturday poll finds some 44 percent of consumers say they will patronize a small business on the day this year, up slightly from 2017, and 58 percent say they will shop in person. Overall this season, 28 percent said they will spend less while 14 percent said they will spend more.

This year, American Express has also expanded the holiday to Puerto Rico for the first time and is sponsoring events including popup shops with Etsy, campaigns to support female-owned businesses and more.

“Small Business Saturday is a great chance to drive awareness and keep small businesses top of mind,” said Raina Moskowitz, Etsy’s SVP of people, strategy and services. “Mass retailers play a great role in convenience and price, but when you shop from a small business, there is a story behind what you are buying. so it’s more personal and thoughtful, especially for the holiday season.”

Heather Parker sells dog bow ties, leashes and other gifts online and at her shop Crew LaLa in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s her fifth year participating in Small Business Saturday, and each year sales have doubled, Parker said. Last year, the day accounted for 12 percent of the company’s overall holiday season sales, and even brought in new, repeat customers.

“Last year 40 percent of our customers from Small Business Saturday were first-time customers,” Parker said. “Of that 40 percent, 65 percent actually turned into returning customers.”

The store even has to bring in extra employees for the weekend and the rest of the holiday season.

“We have to beef up for it because we get such a response from Small Business Saturday,” Parker said. “Having a day that really shows support … is really inspiring. It helps us and kind of fuels us for the rest of the year.”

[“source=cnbc”]