What’s Wrong with Small Business Saturday?
I know this Saturday is the day across America where shoppers are supposed to show their support for small businesses by purchasing items from their local businesses. As a marketing consultant to small businesses, I am a big fan of small businesses and do all that I can to help my clients maximize their sales and profits.
So, why am I not a big fan of Small Business Saturday (#shopsmall)?
Well, it comes down to one thing, the timing of the day, which is the Saturday following Black Friday.
Why is this a problem?
Yesterday, during Thanksgiving, I watched my girlfriend and my mother go through the 2 inches of circulars that came with the newspaper looking for Black Friday related deals. Besides one circular for a local small business retail area, which didn’t have any Black Friday deals, and a local camera store, there were nothing but big store deals being advertised. So, they devoted most of their attention yesterday on identifying deals for their loved ones while today they focused on taking advantage of the good deals. I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility that they got about 80% of their holiday shopping done by midnight.
That leaves just 20% of their budget left for small business shopping on Saturday. While this is good, wouldn’t it be better to be the first ones to get a shot at the shoppers’ dollars than being last in line? Instead of it being the day after Thanksgiving, why can’t it be the Saturday before Thanksgiving? This would serve as a better opportunity for small businesses to get ahead of the bigger stores. (And for those who say it is too early, I would ask them to visit just about any store after Halloween and tell me how much Holiday stuff they see in the stores.)
Will the date change to the Saturday before? I am not holding my breath after doing the math. Sales during the Black Friday period last year were almost $51 billion. Last year’s estimated small business and local sales were about $14 billion on Small Business Saturday. So, clearly, more credit card transactions happen outside of the Small Business Saturday period. (Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010.)
Small business owners work as hard as anyone I have had the privilege of working beside, including my fellow members of the Armed Forces. We are a group of people who are trying to fulfill the American dream that our military members have so diligently sacrificed to protect. The deck is often stacked against us, but like the Americans who founded our Nation, we fight against great odds to succeed.
We must do, therefore, all that we can to maximize the nimble nature of our small businesses and our chances for success. That means taking what is given to us and using it to our greatest advantage.
So, when preparing your marketing plan for next year (yes, it is a good time to do your plan now), consider getting together with other small business owners in your area and do something the Saturday before. You can bet your competitors aren’t probably going to be doing it and that is a good thing, right?