Is Small Business Saturday the answer to Black Friday small businesses are looking for?

It may be great for bargain hunters, but does Black Friday cast a shadow over independent retailers trying to get a piece of the pie during the Christmas shopping season?

But if you’re a small business, can you really compete with the retail giants who can afford to offer massive reductions? Probably not. That’s why Small Business Saturday has stepped in to support smaller setups at this time of year.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is about encouraging people to shop local and support businesses in their local community.

The campaign itself isn’t intended to make profit – it’s aimed at promoting small businesses, which rarely have the marketing and cash flow power to compete with bigger organisations.

The day itself is held on the first Saturday of December annually, but it’s also intended to have a lasting effect throughout the year.

How does Small Business Saturday work?

Shoppers show their support for small businesses on that Saturday in early December each year by opting to spend their Christmas budget with smaller, independent enterprises – whether that’s online, at markets, or in stores.

The initiative aims to get all sorts of small businesses involved, including family businesses, local shops, online businesses, wholesalers, business services, and small manufacturers.

How can I get involved?

There are four main things you can do to get yourself set up for Small Business Saturday:

  1. It doesn’t cost you anything to register and advertise your business on the Small Business Finder.
  2. You can download Small Business Saturday logos to use on your website and social media accounts.
  3. Download the free marketing pack for helpful advice and resources for promoting your business in the lead up to the day.
  4. Connect with Small Business Saturday on social media so they can share your posts related to the event.

Previous highlights from SBS

Estimates suggest shoppers spent £748 million on Small Business Saturday 2017 – it was the most successful campaign yet. Supporters included the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London, fashion designer Alexa Chung, and actress Billie Piper.

And it looks like momentum is growing – with backing from local authorities standing at 87 per cent in 2017 compared with 80 per cent in 2016.

The 2017 Twitter storm also saw #SmallBizSatUK reach the number one spot in the UK, reaching more than 115 million people.

Organisations supporting the campaign include American Express, the Federation of Small Business (FSB), recruitment site Indeed, accounting software firm Xero, and many more.

Could ‘indie week’ be a good alternative?

Just A Card is an initiative that was launched off the back of a What I’m Really Thinking article in the Guardian. This particular story highlighted the plight of an independent shopkeeper struggling to stay afloat.

It was Sarah Hamilton, an artist from London, who read the article and decided to take action, launching Just A Card to encourage people to buy from independent shops and galleries.

The underlying principle is that anything you buy, however small, even ‘just a card’, can help small businesses survive.

With that message in mind, the scheme is running an ‘indie week’ in the final week of November 2018 to boost sales for independent shops struggling to compete with the might of Black Friday.

Looking back at the Budget

It’ll be interesting to see what effect Autumn Budget announcements will have for small businesses, like the £1.5 billion set aside by the Chancellor to help struggling high streets from 2019. Initiatives include business rates relief for independent shopkeepers and £675 million to back regeneration projects.

Are you a small business owner concerned about how to compete with the big retailers this festive season? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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