Small Business Saturday is this weekend. What was once just a marketing campaign has become a crucial sales event for many businesses, helping retailers achieve their bottom line.
“Small Business Saturday is so important for small businesses like ours because it goes a long way in raising awareness that we’re actually here,” said Annie Maloney, owner of Ambler’s Sweet Annie’s Candy Shoppe. “With so many businesses participating, many shoppers see the crowds on our main street and stop to see what all the fuss is about.”
The annual promotion, which American Express launched in 2010 to encourage shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, has grown into a massive event, attracting more than 51 million shoppers nationwide in 2021. Industry watchers are predicting that nearly 6 in 10 holiday shoppers will attend Small Business Saturday this year, a figure expected to be higher than Black Friday.
Small Business Saturday is particularly important this year. The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales will increase by only about 4% (up from 15% in 2021) and that the average consumer will spend about $833, a significant drop from the $879 per consumer spent in March were issued last year.
With costs rising due to inflation, higher interest rates and falling household wealth, many major retailers from Target to Home Depot are forecasting a weak holiday shopping season. Because of this, many small businesses in the area double down on the annual event that celebrates them.
Maloney is using the day as an informal deadline to ensure her entire vacation inventory is stocked and ready to go. The same goes for Carmella Lanni and Carlo Giardina, co-owners of V Marks the Shop, an all-vegan supermarket and grocery store in South Philadelphia, where they stock vegan advent calendars, Hanukkah gelt, festive popcorn cans, and limited-edition vegan cheeses for the holiday. Lanni and Giardina also donate a portion of their Small Business Saturday proceeds to a local community center.
“We use the day to connect with loyal and new customers, our neighbors and the community in general,” said Giardina. “The awareness that events like this create is great at the local business level.”
At Story, a café and bookshop in Ardmore, Anna Walker-Roberts is planning a special sales event for Christmas book buyers.
“We love decorating the store to give it that extra homey holiday feel,” she said. “Our specials change every season and we’re launching a special drink promotion this weekend.”
Like Walker-Roberts, Abigail Greene, owner of Midnight Lunch, an Old City boutique, plans to mark the day with an event. She will host her second annual “Midnight Lunch Marketplace,” which will feature a handful of women-owned brands that primarily sell online, “show up outside of the store and share their products with our brick-and-mortar customer base.” She said.
“I think Small Business Saturday is super important this year,” said Greene, who thinks that over the past two years, as retail has returned to a new version of normal, “the allure of shopping small is a has diminished a little” and customers are again regularly shopping in well-known shops and less often in boutiques.
“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to get consumers back on the conscious shopping train and support local businesses ahead of the holidays,” she said.
Hosting a Small Business Saturday event is easy for Tina Dixon Spence, owner of Mount Airy’s Buddha Babe, a luxury design studio focused on baby, toddler and home accessories.
“It’s our store anniversary, so of course we’re going to celebrate!” She said.
Dixon Spence will invite other Black women business owners to showcase their wares to customers. “This way, shoppers can enjoy Lizzie’s Love Cakes cakes, Stoop & Stank shirts, Joie Candle Co. candles and Honey Gifts Co. wrapping paper.” She’s also introducing new locally made items, including a signature candle, and hosting a Book reading and book signing for NBC10’s Brittney Shipp to celebrate her new book. The meteorologist in me.
In addition to the events, many other small business owners will be launching Christmas promotions this weekend.
“I’m offering wholesale candle pricing in-store, which is the biggest promotion I have all year,” said Amy Johnson, who has owned Langhorne Candle Co. since 1999, which makes both candles and cannabidiol (CBD) products sold. Johnson’s shop is normally closed on Saturdays, but it opens this weekend to participate in Small Business Saturday.
The effect of the campaign goes beyond the typical retail trade. Mike Williams, who runs Red Fox Graphics, a marketing firm in Broomall, will also be offering significant discounts on all orders placed on Saturday. Small Business Saturday “has expanded our client portfolio,” he said.