Make the Most of Small Business Saturday

Make the Most of Small Business Saturday—Even Without Much Prep Time

Anne Shaw

For many small and locally owned businesses, Small Business Saturday® is not only a great way to boost sales at the start of the holiday season, but it’s also a wonderful way to showcase a commitment to their local community. In 2021, the 12th annual Small Business Saturday will take place on November 27th.

Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 by American Express as a celebration of small businesses. Their goal was to inspire shoppers to support local companies. Since it’s start, consumers and the U.S. government have both fully adopted it. This led to the Shop Small® movement and in 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting Small Business Saturday. As a result, thousands of Neighborhood Champions now promote the day across all 50 states each year.

According to the 2020 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, produced by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 56% of shoppers made a purchase online, which was up from 43% in 2019. This year, online shopping on Small Business Saturday is expected to continue to rise. In fact, 50% of Americans who reported shopping small on Small Business Saturday in 2020 also said they supported a small business on social media.

So how can you grab your piece of the Shop Small movement pie? There are two primary ways: by understanding and catering to why shoppers venture out on Small Business Saturday, and then preparing for the day in a way that both informs consumers of your status as a small business and encourages them to shop small with you. This means you’ll want to get your website up and running. You’ll also want to establish a presence on social media.

Capitalize on Why Your Customers Love Small Business Saturday

Some say that part of Sears’ downfall was that it wasn’t tied to local communities in any tangible ways—a strategy that proved especially detrimental in a time when consumers are longing to regrow a sense of real community. Consumers also report that they like making a positive social, economic and environmental impact when they shop.

According to the 2020 survey, a whopping 97% of consumers on Small Business Saturday said they recognize the positive impact they can make by shopping small. And 85% reported also encouraging their friends and family to shop small. It’s easy to see why this day is such a great opportunity for small businesses, especially those that are locally owned.

So be sure to get into the community spirit when writing any messaging related to your Small Business Saturday promotions and also while planning how you’ll treat this special shopping day.

How to Make the Most of Small Business Saturday

If you’re behind schedule with your Small Business Saturday preparations—that’s ok. You can follow our guidelines below to figure out what you can still pull off.

If You Have Two Weeks’ Prep Time

With two weeks to prepare for Small Business Saturday, there is still plenty you can do to encourage customers to shop small with you. This includes planning promotions and sales for your business.

While you certainly may feel more comfortable if you had a month to prepare, you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish in two weeks. Start with this checklist:

  1. Plan promotions: Ideas to consider include offering giveaways and discounts to your customers. For instance, you can offer buy one get one free sales on Small Business Saturday only. You can also offer free samples to customers after they make a purchase.
  2. Partner with vendors or other local businesses: This allows you to promote one another’s companies, especially any that are complementary and share the same types of customers.
  3. Create branded Shop Small swag: You can give this to Small Business Saturday shoppers to show your appreciation and promote your products. Free samples of your products are an easy and quick option.
  4. Generate buzz and spread news of your Small Business Saturday plans: You can start by posting to your social media accounts on what customers can expect from your business on Small Business Saturday. You should also mention any deals, discounts or promotions you’ll have for Small Business Saturday. You can also create posters to hang up in your business that communicate giveaways or sales. Sending emails to your customer base is also a great way to get the news out about your Small Business Saturday plans.

Fun Fact: There are over 31 million small businesses in the United States. You can help promote yours by reading through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) social media guide for Small Business Saturday.

If You Have One Week’s Prep Time

At this point, planning a larger event with Shop Small-branded swag may be out of the question, but that doesn’t need to stop you from taking advantage of other opportunities. There’s still plenty you can do like:

  1. Looking at your shipping rates: One way to motivate customers to shop on Small Business Saturday is to offer free shipping. Many businesses offer this benefit if customers spend over a certain amount.
  2. Categorizing items on your website: Many Small Business Saturday shoppers are looking for holiday gifts. So, you can help guide their browsing by creating categories like “Gifts for Mom.”
  3. Building buzz ahead of time: Once you’ve decided how you’ll make Small Business Saturday special for your business and its customers, you can build excitement ahead of time by posting to social media and sending out emails.

Fun Fact: While Small Business Saturday traditionally has been great for getting consumers out and about in their local communities, it also can boost online sales for small businesses. According to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse Holiday Report for 2020, online sales grew 49% in the holiday season compared to 2019.

If You Have One Day’s Prep Time

At this point, focus on the essentials. If your operation includes a brick-and-mortar location, that means making sure that Small Business Saturday shoppers will notice your business and understand that it’s part of the Shop Small movement.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar shop or an online business, you also can nudge your social media followers with a friendly reminder about shopping small by:

  1. Offering last-minute deals or promotions: You can easily entice shoppers to buy from your business with promotions. For instance, you can offer a flash sale that urges customers to buy items on Small Business Saturday.
  2. Set up hand sanitizing stations: You can help your customers shop safety this year by offering hand sanitizer.
  3. Spreading the word of your participation in Small Business Saturday: You can post that your business is participating in Small Business Saturday with relevant local hashtags (such as #ShopSmall904, #ShopSmallDenver, etc.). You should also mention any sales or other promotions you plan to offer.

Fun Fact: Consumers look forward to Small Business Saturday promotions and giveaways. According to the 2020 report, 43% of consumers took advantage of specials offers or promotions while shopping small.

One last friendly tip: Now is a great time to put a reminder in your 2022 calendar to give yourself enough notice to comfortably get ready for next year’s Small Business Saturday (which will be Saturday, November 26, 2022).

Good luck, and have fun! After all, Small Business Saturday has grown from simply supporting local businesses. It’s now a celebration of your community. #ShopSmall!

Next Steps: Sign up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter and we’ll send you guides, articles, and videos to help you navigate the ins and outs of being a great small business owner. 

One Response to "Make the Most of Small Business Saturday—Even Without Much Prep Time"
    • Jo ann page leather studio | November 19, 2018 at 5:52 am

      Tried to get some templates and posters to print tomorrow but it is 2:45 am at nite.
      I am 80 years old with a great small custom purse business trying to catch up after surgery and have a computer only at work so I am trying with this IPhone in bed and all my passwords at work.
      Can you contact me in a day to get some Small Business Saturday posters templates prepared in time?

      Thanks jo ann page

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