Consumers have an opportunity to let their shopping dollars support small businesses in their community on Nov. 30 this year.
That day, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, has been designated as Small Business Saturday. This is the fourth year that a day has been dedicated to holiday shopping at local small businesses.
Shoppers who “shop small” can benefit in two ways:
A study by the American Booksellers Association has shown that more than 50 percent of the money spent at local small businesses stays in the local economy.
A second benefit is provided to holders of American Express cards. When they enroll their cards online on Sunday, they can then get a $10 statement credit if they use the card to spend $10 or more in a single in-store transaction at a qualifying local small business on Nov. 30.
Visit the shopsmall.com website for more details and to find a list of qualifying local small businesses.
Reasons to shop small
Anyone who has braved the crowds and the traffic on Black Friday knows that it can be crazy out there.
While some may enjoy the adrenaline rush of scraping and clawing through that frenzied competition to get the best deals, many find the less nerve-wracking experience of small business shopping suits them better.
Of course, it’s not an all-or-nothing situation. You can do both.
There are apparently enough shopping dollars to go around: The average family spent more than $900 holiday shopping in 2012.
Exceptional customer service can be another incentive to shop small. The big box stores can provide the merchandise you want but their customer service can sometimes seem to be an afterthought. Many small businesses may have a more personable atmosphere.
Repeat customers can find that they are remembered by a small business. Their preferences and personal needs can be quickly learned and catered to by smaller retailers and restaurants.
Uncertainty in the air
This year there are less than four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That makes for a shorter-than-usual holiday shopping season.
The National Federation for Independent Business has reported that only 13 percent of small business owners think holiday shopping sales will increase this year. Compare that to the 43 percent who expect a decline.
Other forecasts are mixed. The National Retail Federation thinks holiday shopping will be stronger this year than last; Morgan Stanley is predicting that it will be the worst year for retailers since 2008.
No one knows for sure whose crystal ball will be the most accurate. One thing is certain, however: It’s all in the hands of the American consumer.