I’m no Scrooge, but I usually don’t like Christmas shopping. I love buying things for people, but I don’t like the crowds or the lines or the generic merchandise they stock at the chain stores.
That’s why I like Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is the opposite of Black Friday.
Black Friday, of course, is the unofficial start of the holiday season, although it seems like the Black Friday sales started the second the last trick-or-treater left the porch. Black Friday is all about moving merchandise. Stores open early and close late. People fight crowds and stand in line to save a few bucks on slow cookers and smart TVs. Black Friday is noisy and stressful.
Small Business Saturday, on the other hand, is about supporting your friends and neighbors. It’s about buying gifts and enjoying meals who can’t get from one of the national chains.
Small Business Saturday began as a sales promotion 10 years ago to help independent businesses bruised by the Great Recession. In the decade since it has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
According to American Express and my association, NFIB, Americans spent a record $17.8 billion last year on Small Business Saturday. Shoppers spent more on Black Friday, but people spent over twice on Small Business Saturday as much as people spent on Thanksgiving weekend’s other big shopping day, Cyber Monday.
Of course, Small Business Saturday isn’t just about spending money at brick-and-mortar stores; 42 percent of people who said they went out last year on Small Business Saturday said they spent part of the day shopping small online, too.
When you shop at a national chain, most of the money goes out of town to some corporate headquarters. When you shop small, 67 cents of every dollar stays in the community, according to a study by American Express. What’s more, every dollar spent at a small business generates another 50 cents in local business activity. That includes things like workers buying groceries for their families or owners buying supplies for their businesses.
Best of all, Small Business Saturday gives independent shops and businesses to introduce themselves to holiday shoppers who might become regular customers. Indeed, the American Express/NFIB survey said 96 percent of shoppers who went out last year on Small Business Saturday said the day made them want to shop small all year.
Small businesses account for 99.6 percent of all businesses in North Carolina, and they employ about 44 percent of the state’s workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Small businesses create jobs and bring our communities together. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to shop at independent stores and restaurants on Small Business Saturday.
I believe that when we support small business, we help everyone.
Gregg Thompson is state director of NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization. He lives in Raleigh.