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Small-business Saturday here to stay in Black Friday weekend

By Jessica Sonderegger

LOGAN — Tyler McGinnis has never been one for the Black Friday bustle, preferring the warm comfort of his bed over the manic crowds and rising death toll of this demi-holiday.  While the promises of Black Friday have most recently become a week-long affair, McGinnis has finally found a comfortable way to join the festivities.

“Small Business Saturday takes the insanity out of Christmas retail,” he said, “and keeps our money where it needs to be kept.” And he’s not alone. Small Business Saturday, an American Express-endorsed shopping holiday dedicated to the local businesses of America, is gaining success.

After three years of encouraging a “shopping small” shoppers’ holiday, research is proving that awareness is bringing a profit.  According to a consumer insight survey U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday spent a total of $5.5 billion with independent merchants that day.  And that is something American Express Vice Chairman Ed Gilligan anticipated would happen.  In a CBS interview conducted the day after Thanksgiving Gilligan said recent studies suggested that approximately 65 percent of Americans planned on shopping small this holiday season.  “We’re really excited about that,” he said. “Small businesses account for almost half the employment in the United States today; the more we can do to help support them and improve their confidence, including shopping small today, the better off we all will be.”

Sales associate Jana Karren of The Sportsman—a Logan outdoor sports store—said there was a noticeable difference this year in Saturday shoppers than in years past.

“We do a big hurrah for Black Friday,” Karren said. But with the sale that carried over onto Saturday, more and more shoppers voiced their pursuits in shopping small.“I will say more people knew about Small Business Saturday this year, than last year.”

She explained that a lot of customers came on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, with the specific interest in celebrating Small Business Saturday. And Karren said most of these customers didn’t even realize it was an endorsement of American Express; she said they were purely interested in the concept of supporting local businesses. “Lots of people heard about it this year.”

That success may be more than a trend. “Our mission is to help small business do more business. And it was in that spirit that we created Small Business Saturday two years ago and we’re delighted that now we’re off and running for our third one,” Gilligan said.

“My personal reason for shopping local is going back to basics,” said McGinnis. “I can trust local vendors more—I can trust them to make a better product. I am worried, however, that my fellow shoppers are doing it to follow some sort of trend. But hopefully something sticks.”

“I plan on making a habit of it every year,” he said, “if not every Saturday.”

NW