Commentary

American Express Credits Small Business Saturday With Record Sales

According to a self-reporting survey of 2,287 U.S. adults, an estimated 100 million shoppers spent $19.6 billion shopping during the 10th annual Small Business Saturday backed by American Express this weekend, a record. And just as online sales soared on Black Friday -- they were up 43%  to an all-time high of $7.4 billion -- they hit a record $3.6 billion  by shoppers purportedly buying from small businesses on Saturday, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

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Local news outlets from around the country ran positive headlines about the buying binges at local retailers in their areas.

  • “Downtown Pensacola packed for Small Business Saturday” -- 3WEARTV, Pensacola, Florida
  • “Missoula businesses benefit from Small Business Saturday”  -- Missoulian, Missoula, Montana
  • “Small Business Saturday Helps To Make Big Local Impact”  -- News On 6, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, “while other shoppers desperately seek out bodily harm on Black Friday and sit with their eyes glued to their screens on Cyber Monday,” the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s Michael Stahl  offered  “some Small Business Saturday specials you can take advantage of this year” within New York City’s most populous borough.

Down south, “the busiest shopping weekend of the year might have peaked on Saturday, as shoppers crowded outdoor markets to support local businesses,” writes  Sara DiNatale from St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times

“The two-day Shopapalooza Festival took over Vinoy Park as the ‘local alternative to Black Friday’ with more than 225 vendors. Hundreds of people browsed through the booths on Saturday, eyeing everything from mini cacti and vintage sunglasses to books, Brazilian bikinis, and booze,” she continues.

“I come here for gift inspiration,” St. Pete resident Jennifer Caruthers tells DiNatale. “Day one, I walk around. Day two is to pick up the things I decide to buy.”

Amex has inspiration in mind, too.

“Dedicated to supporting the diverse range of local businesses that create jobs, help boost the economy, and enhance neighborhoods around the country, Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: getting more customers,” it states in a joint news release  with the National Federation of Independent Business. 

“We all came together on Saturday to prove that shopping small really does add up,” says American Express CMO Elizabeth Rutledge. “We are thrilled to report that shoppers are increasingly making a conscious effort to Shop Small  and support their local communities, and over the past 10 years consumers reported spending an estimated total of more than $120 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday.”

The survey, conducted by Teneo, which claims an overall margin of error of +/- 2.0% at a 95% level of confidence, found that 70% of shoppers surveyed reported being aware of Small Business Saturday. And 96% agreed that “shopping at small, independently owned businesses supports their commitment to making purchases that have a positive social, economic and environmental impact,” according to the release.

“It's more personal interaction and you have more of a face-to-face, one-on-one relationship with the smaller businesses in the city,” Charlotte Burch, owner of Sensuous Satiables in Rochester, New York, tells  13 WHAM.

In Summit, New Jersey, around 200 businesses participate in the event, Meredith Hendra, a spokeswoman for the city, tells  CNBC’s Díamaris Martino in a preview story about the day.

“The town goes all out for the hectic day. One promotion is the Shop Summit Passport event, which helps to encourage shoppers to explore the town’s hundreds of businesses. Shoppers can get a ‘passport’ stamped at any of the downtown businesses. Once they collect eight stamps -- four of which have to be retailers -- they can enter to win a $500 Summit Visa gift card. The day is also filled with entertainment and carriage rides,” Martino writes.

“Small business Saturday ends our November with like the biggest Christmas sales we can get, that means paid vacation for our employees, that means we are able to give them Christmas bonuses, being able to take a break myself as the owner,” Brandon Love, owner and founder of Crumble Co., tells  a reporter from 41 KSHB. 

Indeed, “statistics show over 68 cents to $1 that you spend locally stays in the community,” Bruce Guthrie executive director of The Distract, tells  Kendall Hyde of 7 KHQA in Quincy, Illinois.

“The only way that we actually are thriving is from the community. Them coming out is actually showing they love what we do, it means a lot to us as business owners,” Guthrie adds.

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