Small Business Saturday, created by American Express to help local merchants, is celebrating its 13th anniversary. The day, which falls on Nov. 26 this year, is aimed at showcasing smaller businesses during the kickoff weekend of the holiday shopping season.
In 2011, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to recognize the day. That same year, the Small Business Saturday Coalition was formed, and the event was cosponsored by the Small Business Administration.
While the day is bookended by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday has slowly muscled its way into getting the attention of shoppers.
In American Express’ latest Amex Trendex report, 72 percent of consumers said they prefer to shop at small businesses during the holidays to get more personalized and unique gifts, while 77 percent of respondents said they believe it’s more important than ever to support small businesses this holiday season. And for 72 percent of consumers, supporting small businesses means dining out at favorite local restaurants.
The Small Business Association defines a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees. In the U.S., there are 33.2 million small businesses. The companies with fewer than 20 employees total 23 million. Many are importers, exporters, small manufacturers, pureplay e-commerce retailers, health care and medical firms, food and beverage companies, restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, gas stations and trade crafts, as well as service companies in finance, banking and insurance, among other sectors.
But the number of “mom-and-pop” merchants is small by comparison. According to IBISWorld, there are just over 151,000 businesses that categorize themselves as “small, specialty retail stores.” Many of those merchants were hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. The SBA said in a statement: “This year, we know that small businesses need our support now more than ever as they navigate, retool and pivot from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”
American Express has set up a special website to help shoppers find and support a small business. The site uses location services on smartphones and computers to show the location of the nearest merchant (who, of course, accepts American Express). The site also touts special deals at small businesses for American Express cardholders.
For small businesses, American Express features tools and marketing materials as well as offers with various partner companies such as FedEx, Constant Contact and Intuit Quickbooks.