Why Small Business Saturday® Is a Great Opportunity


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Mark your calendars — Small Business Saturday® is November 25th this year, and you don’t want to miss out on the local holiday shopping. What started as an effort by American Express to drive more sales to small businesses during the holiday season has grown into a national event that celebrates and supports local businesses (shop local!) in neighborhoods across the country.

Last year, $17.9 billion was spent shopping or dining at local, independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday.1 More so, an average of two-thirds of every dollar spent on small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community.2 If you’re a local business owner, participating in this event is your chance to shine.

What Is Small Business Saturday?

American Express launched Small Business Saturday on November 27, 2010. The day continues to be celebrated each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and encourages consumers to support their local small businesses (in person) during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year (right before Cyber Monday).

Small Business Saturday has become a shopping tradition in many communities, with consumers coming out to support small business owners by shopping local retailers in-store.

Shop Small Benefits

Participating in Small Business Saturday is a great way to reach new customers and promote your business, and increase foot traffic. Here are some great marketing tips for getting involved on Nov 25:

  • Let your customers know that you plan to participate in Small Business Saturday. Visit com/YourDay for free promotional assets, such as ready-made social media posts, to show your support this holiday shopping season.
  • Connect with your community. Contact your local chamber of commerce to see how your business can participate in Small Business Saturday events and promotions.
  • If you’re a qualified American Express® Card–accepting merchant, you can get recommended to potential customers simply because you welcome the Card. Learn more at com/PromoteYourBusiness.

Small Business Saturday Ideas

Communities across the country have put their own spin on Small Business Saturday by building events, scavenger hunts, giveaways, and special one-day-only promotions around the day. Here are some creative ideas / marketing strategies and promotions that have emerged from this day.

Use a Community Approach

Main Street Beaufort, USA

Every year in Beaufort, SC, the mayor signs a proclamation that designates the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday. Main Street Beaufort, USA, a nonprofit organization, also hosts a daylong event downtown that invites all local businesses and shoppers to partake in the celebration. Main Street Beaufort, USA helps prepare businesses by supplying them with promotional supplies, such as pens, and businesses offer special promotions or donate gift cards for raffles to incentivize shoppers. On the day of the event, Main Street Beaufort, USA invites a local radio station to broadcast live from the event and interview local small business owners. The director of Main Street Beaufort, USA estimates that at least 50 local businesses participate in the festivities every year, and many of them keep the doormats down year-round as a gentle reminder for customers to Shop Small.

Create Partnerships

Adams Morgan in Washington D.C.

By banding together with other small businesses, business owners can extend their advertising reach and get exposure to shoppers who otherwise might not have known about their stores. For example, local businesses in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington D.C. promote Small Business Saturday as a relaxed alternative to Black Friday.

“Choosing gifts for yourself, family or friends should be fun,” shares the owner of Skynear Designs, a participating local home furnishing and art shop. Working with neighbors is an exceptional way to create a sense of community and highlight your role as a small business, all the while saving on costs during the holiday season.

Put the Customer First

Lolo Boutique in Fullerton, CA

For some communities, Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to kick off the holiday season. The founder/owner of Lolo Boutique in Fullerton, California, was thrilled to learn about Small Business Saturday and her local chamber of commerce’s passport program to encourage consumers to participate. “You don’t need to buy, you can just come in and get a stamp,” she shares. “Then, they turn in the passport to the chamber and the chamber gives away prizes.”

Upton also encouraged consumers to stop in with free holiday doughnuts and hot cider. Many of the customers who frequent her shop ask about Small Business Saturday plans well before the event and often mention coming in specifically to show their support for her business and other local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Use Social Media

In preparation and to build anticipation for the big day, many local business owners can become influencers and promote Small Business Saturday via social media and email newsletters. Reaching out to your current database / email list to inform loyal customers of special Small Business Saturday promotions is a great way to get the word out about the day to stand out to shoppers – especially those who are already familiar with your business.

Every year, thousands of shoppers and local business owners flood Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) with messages about Small Business Saturday and/or the Shop Small Movement. Use hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday and #ShopSmall to connect with people in your community and boost your online presence.

Get Ready for the Shop Small Movement Today

As a local business, determine how you can promote your business (special offers, gift wrapping, a free gift, etc.) and be part of #SmallBizSat. While you can certainly tackle the event on your own, it’s a great idea to explore partnering with some neighboring businesses in your local community to capitalize on this day together. Sharing costs, planning duties and cross-promoting one another can be a win for all of you and help you reach a larger audience.

You don’t have to be an American Express merchant to participate in Small Business Saturday. Don’t miss out on a great way to highlight your local business and help enrich the community and local economy.

Here’s to wishing all the local visionaries in communities across America, the ones who took a chance on their dreams and turned them into realities, big success for #SmallBizSat and a strong finish for 2023!

1. This spend statistic is an aggregate of the average spend as reported by consumers in surveys commissioned by American Express reporting spend habits on Small Business Saturday of consumers who were aware of the day. It does not reflect actual receipts or sales. Each such survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. The surveys had an overall margin of error of between +/- 2.0% and at the 95% level of confidence. The data was projected from the samples based on then-current U.S. Census estimates of the U.S. adult population (18+).

2. The 2022 Small Business Economic Impact Study was conducted by Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) on behalf of American Express. ESI calculated the share of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment and employee compensation that small businesses with under 100 employees provide to the economy based on analysis used by the U.S. Small Business Administration. ESI also estimated how much of each dollar spent at the average small business remains in their local community, and used input-output analysis across 100 representative U.S. counties to calculate the additional impact that is generated locally as the result of the spending of employees and the spending of the small business with local suppliers and service providers.