Small Business Saturday

The weeks keep flying by in 2017. Somehow Thanksgiving is tomorrow and all the holiday shopping really kicks into gear this weekend, starting with Black Friday (although I believe many stores have already started Black Friday sneak peak sales earlier this week). I know I have woken up at the crack of dawn on Black Friday with my mom, sister and Aunt many years to go shopping at a giant mall in Atlanta (where we used to spend Thanksgiving) for “the biggest sale of the year”. Those are great memories looking back on it, but I can honestly say I am not attempting any Black Friday shopping this year. Instead, I will venture out on Saturday and visit some of my favorite small, independently owned businesses and support them.

Small Business Saturday (a registered trademark of American Express) is officially the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  American Express first launched the holiday in 2010 to support small, local businesses that make our communities stronger, but are often overlooked during the busiest weekend of the year for shopping.  It’s nestled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, both of which focus more on larger companies and eCommerce.  Small Business Saturday can (and should) be every Saturday, however, many small businesses promote sales and specials during the weekend after Thanksgiving, when holiday shoppers are on the prowl.

I did some research on Black Friday (and beyond as the “holiday” seems to extend longer and longer each year) and the numbers are staggering. I drove my husband nuts last night reading out all these statistics. Each source had slightly different numbers and all were tracking online sales vs in person sales, but the total spending in 2016 for Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were estimated to be around $10billion: $1.93 billion online shopping on Thanksgiving Day, $3.34 billion online sales on Black Friday, $1.2 billion mobile sales on Black Friday and $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday.

According a survey performed by RetailMeNot, consumer spending over the Black Friday weekend is expected to increase by 47% from 2016 to 2017.  They expect shoppers to spend an average of $743 per person in 2017 versus $505 per person in 2016.  Those numbers are for the entire weekend, though it only specifically referenced Black Friday and Cyber Monday. RetailMeNot expects more shoppers on Cyber Monday (56% of shoppers in 2017 versus 39% in 2016) but same percentage of shoppers on Black Friday year over year.

Small Business Saturday is predicted to be the 7th top shopping day (far behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday) according to that same RetailMeNot survey.  This prediction makes me so sad because small businesses are a large part of what creates and supports our community.

According to the US Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are 28.8 million small businesses in the US which is 99.7% of all US businesses. Those 28.8 million small businesses employed 56.8 million people in 2014 (unfortunately all the various surveys I found are taken in different years, but you can get the idea and see the trends hopefully). These numbers shocked me, so naturally I looked up the statistics for South Carolina. Per the American Express Small Business website, there are 395,068 small businesses in South Carolina which makes up 99.4% of all businesses in the state.  The website also states that 46.9% of employees working in South Carolina work for small businesses.  As I mentioned earlier, small businesses play a major role in our economic growth.  According to a study performed by the Office of Advocacy’s Small Business Profiles, 1.1 million new jobs were created in the US and 17,129 jobs were created in South Carolina by small businesses in 2014 alone.  Data for 2015 and 2016 were not available, but I would assume these numbers have increased each year.

Sorry guys, I know there are a LOT of numbers in this blog post (I’m an accountant/financial analyst – sometimes I can’t help it. I do LOVE numbers J )  Just a few more, I promise.  Lowcountry Local First is a local Charleston “nonprofit cultivating an economy anchored in local ownership, because local-independent businesses are the cornerstone of our culture, economy, and character”.  According to their website and research, businesses reinvest 3 times more money back into our local economy than large corporations do!!  How amazing is that!?  To give you an example (and yes more numbers), for every $100 spent at a large corporation, an average of $15 is reinvested in our local economy.  However, for the same $100 spent at a small business, $45 ($15*3) is reinvested into our local economy!  If we assume the $3.45 billion spent on Cyber Monday alone last year was all large corporations giving back 15% to the community, then $517 million was reinvested.  If we take that same $3.45 billion spent on Cyber Monday alone last year and spent it on small businesses reinvesting 45% back into the local economy, then $1.55 billion would have been reinvested!  Even if you aren’t a dorky accountant like me, those number have to excite and inspire you – right?

Ok – enough numbers.  How can you help?  First, stuff yourself with turkey and stuffing and gravy on Thursday.  Take a nap on Friday and use the guides linked below (if you are in SC) to help you plan your day on Saturday.  Next, head out into your community on Saturday and SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES.  Take any guilt you have from over-indulging on Thanksgiving food (which I will most certainly do) and replace that with the sense of accomplishment and pride when you support your local business owner (which in turn is supporting their family and dreams and the local economy even more than spending money at big box retail). Lowcountry Local First has a listing of local businesses in the Charleston area and Charleston Moms Blog published their own local “Mom-Based Business” guide in the Charleston area.  My girl, Shana, with Handstand Happiness will have her own local shopping guide to Greenville, SC.  If you are not in South Carolina, Google “Small Business in ____” and I’m sure you will find all sorts of resources.  Happy shopping!