What is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday started in the US in November 2010. It is originally an American shopping holiday and marketing initiative held on the Saturday after US Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. It acts as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where customers shop at big retailers and larger stores with mass sales and huge discounts. Small Business Saturday, on the other hand, encourages customers to support small, local businesses.
Following the success of Small Business Saturday in the US, Small Business Saturday spread to the UK in 2012.
Since the first Small Business Saturday, this shopping holiday has become an annual event in the UK. It’s a chance for small businesses to promote themselves, work with other small businesses, and encourage customers to ‘shop locally’ to support them.
2023’s UK Small Business Saturday is on the 2 December.
Why is supporting small businesses important?
Chuka Umunna, a former Shadow Business Secretary, has said the initiative ‘strikes a chord with everyone’ as most people know someone who runs a business or even runs one themselves. The UK has historically been a country built on innovation and entrepreneurship. Mr Umunna believes that consumers recognise that smaller businesses contribute massively to the community and economy.
Small Business Saturday gives independent retailers a platform to compete against large corporations. It provides healthy competition and allows for creativity. Many local businesses specialise in niche products and artisan goods, which are rarely available from large corporate retailers.
In fact, consumers have taken to Small Business Saturday. In 2020 alone, consumers spent an estimated £1.1 billion on Small Business Saturday, with around 15.4 million people taking part.
I’m part of a small business, how can I take part in Small Business Saturday?
Taking part in Small Business Saturday is simple. If you’re a small business, you can register and advertise your business on Small Business Saturday’s website for free. Once registered, you can also use Small Business Saturday’s logo and marketing materials for free.
Consider making your business appealing to customers by:
creating short-form video content advertising your business (eg making bite-sized TikToks or Instagram Reels showcasing your products or Small Business Saturday promotions)
collaborating with other local businesses (eg organising an event together with another small business in your area or approaching a local influencer to host an event on your business’ grounds)
extending your operating hours
launching a new product or service
offering discounts on popular items
Any business considering taking part in Small Business Saturday should also make sure they have the correct documents in place to protect themselves when doing business with customers. To support your business, make sure your documents are relevant and up-to-date. Consider having in place:
Terms and conditions, which are useful if you want to sell goods or services
Website terms and conditions, if you run a website and want to set out how your website can be used
a Returns policy, if you sell goods to customers
When dealing with customers, you also need to make sure you comply with your legal obligations as a business. These include:
upholding certain consumer rights
meeting data protection requirements
complying with certain online business regulations for businesses that operate online
How can I support small businesses on Small Business Saturday?
As a business
If you’re a small business yourself, think about how you can provide your goods or services to other businesses.
You can also consider giving tips and advice to newer businesses that have just started (ie becoming a mentor). After all, it’s important for communities to help each other where possible.
If your business has a social media presence, consider using it to support and promote awareness of Small Business Saturday and any small businesses you like. Consider tagging your posts using Small Business Saturday hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSatUK, #ShopLocal, and #ShopSmall.
And Small Business Saturday doesn’t have to be all about shopping. Consider using it as a networking opportunity. Speak to follow small business owners and make connections - you may be able to help each other out in the long run.
As a private person
Supporting Small Business Saturday as a consumer is fairly straightforward.
By shopping locally you can support smaller businesses in your community and, therefore, Small Business Saturday. For example, rather than doing your weekly shop at a large supermarket, consider going to your local farmers’ market or butcher.
Additional steps you can take to support small businesses and Small Business Saturday include:
leaving positive reviews for small businesses (eg your favourite local restaurant or independent bookshop) - this can help grow the business and help it to further establish itself
posting on social media about businesses you like - similar to leaving a review, you can use social media to let others know about your favourite local businesses (remember to use the Small Business Saturday hashtags if you do!)
helping to fund small businesses - small businesses may be looking for funding to get their feet in the door. If you have the money to spare and would like to support a new small business, consider browsing crowdfunding sites (eg Kickstarter and Indiegogo) and making contributions
Visit the Small Business Saturday website to find out more about Small Business Saturday in the UK.