Black Friday is considered the start of the holiday shopping season with midnight doorbusters sales and discounts, long lines, crowds, and shoppers grabbing items in a frenzy.
That’s why I like Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Black Friday. You can shop leisurely, picking the right gifts for your family, friends, and neighbors and promoting a locally owned business on Main Street, plus enjoying a meal at a locally owned restaurant. When you shop locally and eat at locally-owned restaurants, you are giving back to businesses that promote your town throughout the year.
Small Business Saturday began in 2010 as a way to encourage people to shop at local businesses still recovering from the Great Recession. Since then, it’s become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Last year, shoppers spent a record $23.3 billion at small, independent shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey by American Express and my group, the National Federation of Independent Business.
No one’s sure how much shoppers will spend at small businesses this Saturday. Supply chain issues and inflation have driven up the cost of everything from groceries to Christmas trees, but owners remain optimistic and look forward to having shoppers in their stores and restaurants. After all, in 2020, when a lot of stores still had limited hours and inventory and we were all being asked to remain socially distanced because of the pandemic, American Express and NFIB still reported a slight increase in sales on Small Business Saturday.
I believe shoppers still turned out that year because they understand just how much small businesses really matter to their communities.
After all, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99.4 percent of all businesses in Alabama. So, when we shop small, we are helping our friends and neighbors. We’re helping the businesses that support our schools and give to local charities. Small businesses are the glue that holds our communities together.
When we shop at chain stores, the money goes to a big corporation based in another state or country, but 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small family-owned business stays in the community, according to American Express and NFIB. Plus, every dollar spent at a small business creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as employers and their employees shop at other local businesses.
Something else to consider: When you shop at a small business, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner, maybe someone you know, definitely someone who’ll do everything they can to turn holiday shoppers into regular customers who’ll return throughout the year.
Alabama’s economy is built on its small businesses. That’s why I’m asking you and your family to join me in shopping small on Saturday, Nov. 26th, and throughout the year. When we shop and promote small businesses, we help our communities to grow and thrive.
Rosemary Elebash is the Alabama State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business.