Economy Marketing

Celebrate local businesses and #ShopSmall on Saturday and all holiday season

The annual tradition of Small Business Saturday  will look and feel different this year. Some years cities in South Florida planned special events and entertainment — not so much this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But in 2020, more than ever, our small businesses need your support. Small Business Saturday, created by American Express, is a way to celebrate small business owners and what they contribute to our community.

I believe the spirit of Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28 this year) should carry throughout the rest of the year. In other words, for all your holiday giving consider shopping with local small businesses as much as possible.

“Small Business Saturday started 10 years ago to help small businesses come out of the Great Recession. Back then, we thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen to us, but 10 years later, here comes the pandemic. We started planning early in the year to not just make Small Business Saturday a huge one-day success but to encourage people to shop small throughout the whole season,”  Colleen Taylor, president of merchant services at American Express, told Forbes.


Many consumers are understandably shopping online more than ever this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic is surging in South Florida and elsewhere. According to a survey, just 60% of consumers say they plan to shop in-store, versus 87% who did so in 2019. Still, the National Retail Federation estimates that Americans are still poised to spend just under $1,000 on average for the holidays this year. Let’s help our community with those dollars.

And here’s the good news: Many local retailers are poised to service you with curbside pickup. Some of them have online sales for the first time. And giving gift cards this year is decidedly cool: You can buy a gift card from your favorite restaurant or neighborhood retailer to give as a gift and it does double duty. Your purchase of a gift card supports that small business now when they desperately need it and your gift recipient may become a happy customer of that shop or eatery – for life.

“Small businesses have been so innovative this year, pivoting to respond to what their customers needed during the pandemic, whether it was curbside pickup, home delivery or getting into e-commerce,” Taylor said. In AmEx’s survey, 78% said they took steps to support their communities by volunteering their time and donating goods and services to local causes.

American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday in 2010 to shine a spotlight on small businesses. Collectively, American Express estimates that consumers have spent more than $120 billion supporting small businesses since the event’s inception, including more than $19 billion last year.

Small Business Saturday 2020 holds particular importance, as 62% of small business owners say they need to see spending levels return to pre-COVID levels before the year is out in order to keep their doors open, according to American Express’s survey. In Florida, that need is deep. A study conducted by Florida SBDC Network, in partnership with the Florida Chamber Foundation and the University of West Florida Haas Center, early this fall found 85% of small businesses have lost revenue this year, among many other findings.

“If we can support them this season, then they will have the fortitude and wherewithal to make it through 2021,” Taylor said.


How does a small business participate?

You don’t need to sign up or register to participate in the event. If you want to promote the event, you can do so with free marketing materials from American Express. This includes downloadable materials you can use to advertise Small Business Saturday online or in-store, including posters and signage, social media posts and customizable decals. This year, American Express is offering a free e-book to help small business owners manage social distancing requirements for customers who shop in-store, along with social distancing signage. Also, this year’s Small Business Saturday kit includes special marketing materials to show support for Black-owned businesses.

The Shop Small map makes it easy for consumers to find businesses that participate in Small Business Saturday. Small businesses who are American Express card holders can ask to be added to the map through the Small Business Saturday website.

Whether a small business is officially participating in Small Business Saturday or not, GrowBiz’s tip to businesses is to promote your COVID social distancing practices, promote your online sales or curbside pickup option if you have one, and make it easy for people to purchase gift cards.


How does a consumer participate? Shop. Keep it local, even if the business isn’t officially participating in Small Business Saturday, buy something there for your holiday gift list if you are comfortable doing so. If you are not, inquire if they have curbside pickup or you can purchase a gift card online.

Also, show your local businesses some social media love this season. American Express’s study found that the majority (78%) of small business owners say that positive feedback on social media is a “significant driver of business.” Social media endorsements help generate 23% of their business, American Express’ new data shows. So shout out your favorite local boutique, gift shop, book store, salon, or restaurant and don’t forget the #ShopSmall hashtag.

Let’s keep the #BuyLocal and #ShopSmall spirit going all season long, not just one Saturday. I’ll be shopping local for my entire holiday gift list this year – won’t you join me?

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