Today, stand back from the hype and try to see through the blitz of Black Friday special deals and offers. Next weekend marks a much more worthwhile day of consumer opportunity – both to bag a bargain and to do some good at the same time. On 7 December, the UK celebrates Small Business Saturday.
In the US, the initiative reaches its 10th birthday in 2020, while here in the UK we’ve been holding this annual celebration of small and medium-sized enterprises since 2013. It’s a campaign that everyone should support – an opportunity to spend money with independent businesses up and down the country.
Those businesses are certainly doing their best to make that easy. Small Business Saturday will see them offer all sorts of cut-price deals, special offers and promotions to tempt customers away from their larger competitors. You’ll find many of those offers in independent retailers, but the high street isn’t the only place to look; the initiative embraces all types of small business, in physical stores and online, and in the business-to-business sector as well as in consumer-facing markets.
The results are impressive. Research commissioned by sponsor American Express suggests that on Small Business Saturday last year, SMEs earned £812m extra as a result of the promotion, up from £748m in 2017.
That was helped by local support from the wider community. In 2018 nine in 10 of the UK’s local councils supported the initiative, and almost two-thirds of people aware of the day said they had spent more than usual with small businesses as a result.
Social media has also become an important part of the story. Tweets sent on the day last year reached more than 100 million people, with #SmallBizSatUK and #SmallBusinessSaturday trending in the UK’s top 5 throughout the day. Facebook and Instagram posts were also up markedly on 2017.
As it has grown, the event has become increasingly high-profile, with politicians keen to lend their support. With less than two weeks to go until the general election, look out for MPs and campaigners of every political colour doing their best to fly the flag for small business – it’s an opportunity to leverage the energy of the political battle for productive use.
If you’re a small business yet to engage, the good news is that it’s not too late to get involved. Check out the Small Business Saturday campaign site for more information about what you could do and the support that’s available – the site offers a range of free marketing packs, ideas for promotions and advice on how to run social media campaigns.
If you’re a consumer, meanwhile, think about how best you can support your local small and medium-sized enterprises. We haven’t heard enough in this election campaign about what each of the political parties would do to support the UK’s small businesses, despite the difficulties they face. But make no mistake, these enterprises are the lifeblood of our economies, driving employment and wealth creation. In the face of challenging headwinds, from the unfair business rates system to competition from multinationals with bottomless marketing budgets, they deserve our support.