Small Business Saturday shows the big economic benefits of shopping small

With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s easy to get swept up in the frenzy over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But what about Flannel Friday and Cider Monday?

America’s 30 million small businesses reflect the unique character of their communities. Flannel Friday and Cider Monday are just two of the lures that small businesses in Montpelier, Vermont, are using to draw shoppers to the many family-owned retailers that line State Street. There are discounts for anyone wearing flannel the day after Thanksgiving, along with free apple-based beverages the following Monday.

And tucked in between is a day that shoppers in every community can celebrate – Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For nearly a decade, Small Business Saturday has helped independently owned stores compete with national chains, online retailers and big box stores. Across the country, locally owned shops are finding creative ways to drive traffic through their doors or to their e-commerce sites.

Karen Williams, who owns Woodbury Mountain Toys in Montpelier, says kids have already been eying the latest must-have toys and identifying items for their wish lists.

The holidays are a critical time for retailers – 35 percent of Williams’ sales for the entire year happen between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plus, she notes, Small Business Saturday reminds shoppers to step away from their keyboards.

As head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, I have visited more than 800 small businesses in nearly every state. This Small Business Saturday, I invite shoppers to support the local retailers that make their communities special.

Shop at your favorite local stores or discover new ones. Whether it’s the one-of-a-kind products or services these small businesses offer or the friendly people who work there, they make our neighborhoods home.

The entrepreneurs behind the counters can help you pick out that perfect gift, teach you how to use it, or explain the story behind its creation. Shopping becomes an experience in these stores that connects you to your neighbors. It lets you share a story as well as a gift with those on your list.

Small businesses create two out of three net new jobs in the private sector, and about half of America’s workforce either works for or owns a small business 

You’ll also be part of a rising trend. A survey by NFIB found 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2017. And 90 percent of consumers agreed that Small Business Saturday makes a positive impact on their community.

This year, Small Business Saturday has the potential to be even greater. The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday retail sales will increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over last year. Nationwide, shoppers are expected to spend as much as $720 billion.

The reason? A strong economy and record level consumer optimism. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in almost 50 years and consumer confidence is at its highest level in 18 years.

The tax cuts spearheaded by President Trump mean more workers have gotten new jobs, raises, and bonuses – giving them more money to spend. Plus, as small businesses succeed, they create more revenue and more jobs for their communities – benefits that propel our economy and our nation toward even greater prosperity.

Small businesses create two out of three net new jobs in the private sector, and about half of America’s workforce either works for or owns a small business. These businesses reflect the innovative spirit of our nation and invigorate neighborhoods and cities, making them vibrant places to live, work and raise a family.

Small businesses also give a community its character, sponsoring Little League teams, putting ads in high school yearbooks, and serving as the local landmarks everyone knows. There’s no better way to return that support than investing your holiday shopping dollars in the continued success of small businesses.