With the holiday shopping season focused on big name companies on Black Friday and the growth of online buying, small business, rightfully called the ‘engine of the job-making economy,’ is sometimes ignored. That’s why it is satisfying to see the survey results released by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express declaring the seventh Small Business Saturday a success.
The survey indicated that 72% of shoppers were aware of Small Business Saturday. When shoppers visit independent local businesses those establishments thrive and that means jobs, the key to a strong economy. This year, an estimated 112 million consumers reported shopping at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, marking a 13 percent increase from 2015. Over the last month, there were 135 million social media engagements in support of Small Business Saturday, up from 85 million in 2015.
Elected officials from President Obama on down recognized Small Business Day with over 650 proclamations in support of the day.
While the political support and healthy turnout is fine, we should keep a weary eye out for any decline in support of small businesses. There is always a concern that online shopping will squeeze local merchants. In fact, despite the increase of shoppers, the survey estimated that $15.4 billion was spent at independent retailers and restaurants on the day, but that was a decrease from the estimated $16.2 billion spent in 2015.
Why should we be concerned for small business? Yes, it’s an important job creator, the U.S. government says small business creates 75% of the net new jobs in our economy. But perhaps more importantly, local merchants often make up the heart and soul of many communities. One study found that for every dollar spent at small businesses, 68 percent comes back to the community, as compared to 46 percent that ends up with major retailers. Small businesses also know their communities and are altruistic often giving more generously to nonprofit organizations that big companies.
So, let’s both celebrate the success of this Small Business Saturday but remember the importance of supporting small businesses goes far beyond just shopping at small businesses one day a year. Let’s hope our newest crop of elected officials in the State Capitol and at every level remember that from Day One.