The third annual edition of Small Business Saturday – an alternative to the big retailers’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday – rang up estimated sales of $5.5 billion at independent merchants across the US, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. That’s better than the $5.3 billion that had been predicted.
Dan Danner, CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, was elated by the response to Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24.
“We hope that support of small firms, retailers, restaurants and other independent businesses continues throughout the holiday season and all year-round,” Danner said in a news release. “Continued support of this vital sector is one important way to ensure our economy fully recovers and a healthy private sector is restored.”
Toward that end, what lessons can we learn from Small Business Saturday? Here are seven for you to ponder.
1. Shopping “small” pays off. Economic impact studies in 10 US cities that were sponsored by the American Booksellers Association (ABA) showed that, on average, spending at independent retailers generates 3.7 times more direct local economic benefit than spending at big chains does, according to the American Independent Business Alliance. In Louisville, Ky., a shopping shift of just 10 percent from chains to independent businesses would mean an extra $416 million in the regional economy each year, the Louisville Independent Business Alliance says.
2. Promotional efforts matter. Jim Brownell, vice president of retail solutions at GT Nexus, told USA Today that Small Business Saturday represents a great opportunity for local retailers, but it doesn’t work unless they spread the word about service or product promotions. “You can’t sit back and hope that the SBA with all their advertising is really going to be the ones that will bring everybody in,” Brownell said.
3. Discounts don’t have to be scary. On Forbes.com, bookstore owner Sunday Steinkirchner wrote that the deals her shop offered on Small Business Saturday weren’t ones that would be offered all yearlong, “but for one day, we were willing to try something different.” The deals worked, she said: In-store sales and website traffic increased, and the shop re-connected with customers who hadn’t been around for a while.
4. Spiffing up your store makes a difference. “Especially in small towns, many stores could stand to improve,” entrepreneur Becky McCray wrote on her blog, SmallBizSurvival.com. “Clean up, dress up, level up. Expand your hours late into the evening. You are going to have to earn those additional sales.”
5. Jazzing up the shopping experience sets you apart. “Host some live music or an art display. Feature local foods or regional treats,” McCray recommended to Small Business Saturday participants.
6. Small business is big business. For every $100 spent with locally owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through local taxes, payroll and other expenditures, according to a US Senate resolution supporting Small Business Saturday.
7. Small businesses are job engines. Over the past two decades, small business owners have created more than 65 percent of new US jobs, according to the Senate resolution. “At a time when our economy is struggling to create jobs, Small Business Saturday is an excellent campaign to help push economic development in our own communities,” US Sen., an Arkansas Democrat, said in a news release.
This article is part of the Drive Your Business Forward series. Check out allvoices.com/smallbusiness for more tips and advice on how to succeed as a small business. This series is supported by Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.