Seasonal & Holiday

Small Businesses–Competing or Crashing?

Small business are begging for your business. The question is, can they compete?

Small Business Saturday is “Main Street’s” bid for holiday shopping. They can only hope that you’ve not exhausted your dollars on Black Friday. American Express used to hope so. They launched the post-Thanksgiving shopping smack in the middle of a recession back in 2010, in hopes of bolstering much needed business. The credit card company offered small rebates to cardholders who buy from local business on that day. But for some reason, Amex stopped this promotion in 2015. They offered a smaller incentive if you shopped “small” in the month of November, but it certainly wasn’t what shoppers were hoping for.

Americans who actually know about Small Business Saturday spent $5.7 billion in local business last year. Yet, that doesn’t mean the shoppers KNEW about Small Business Saturday–it may be coincidental that they just have their shopping shoes on.

The question is–is Small Business Saturday enough to get small stores out of the red, as Black Friday is known to do (hence the name)? Based on research, it seems that many businesses not only don’t know about it, but certainly don’t rely it. If anything, they are more inclined to give coupons or extra discounts as a gesture, than an expectation to bolster business by huge numbers. And let’s face it, if the stores don’t even know it’s happening, the idea isn’t going to ever take off. Furthermore, in order to be really effective, several shops in one area would have to work together to create (and probably pay for) marketing campaigns to get people in the door. Small business owners just don’t have those extra advertising funds to pour into one weekend.

It would be nice to support your town’s local businesses–after all, it’s what makes home, home. But the reality is, most people are only as charitable as their budget allows. And when your budget is promised to holiday gifts, nobody is buying handcrafted leather bags, or vintage photos in niche stores.

So, what do you think? How important is it to your local community to support the local businesses, soon becoming a thing of the past? Let them go, or prop them up?