What is Small Business Saturday? A Guide to Participation and Impact

Rita Pereira
November 23, 2023
 min read

What if there was a day specifically designed to showcase your small business? Well, there is, and it's called Small Business Saturday. This annual event is more than just a date on the calendar; it's a golden opportunity for small business owners like you to shine.
In this guide, we'll unpack the essence of Small Business Saturday and why your active involvement can significantly enhance your business's visibility. Let's explore how this event can become a game-changer for your small enterprise!

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday, initiated by American Express in 2010, is an annual event for celebrating and supporting local businesses. Positioned strategically after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it encourages people to choose local merchants over larger retail establishments. Amidst the frenzy of major shopping events, this day provides a platform for small businesses to attract customers by creating events and offering discounts to make the shopping experience more enticing.

More than just a one-day affair, Small Business Saturday extends its impact beyond its designated date. It emphasises ongoing support for local businesses, turning each small purchase into a meaningful contribution to the community. The initiative highlights the importance of nurturing and sustaining small enterprises, contributing to their growth and success in the face of economic challenges. 

Conceived initially to address the economic challenges small businesses face, the initiative has grown into a global movement.

When does it happen?

This fantastic initiative occurs annually in the United States on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In the United Kingdom, Small Business Saturday is celebrated on the first Saturday of December. 

United Kingdom’s Small Business Saturday 2023 team (Retrieved from the Official Facebook Page)

Why should I join? Does it impact my business?

Participating in Small Business Saturday offers numerous benefits for consumers and businesses. According to the 2022 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey by American Express, 72% of shoppers strongly desire to shop and dine at small, independently-owned retailers and restaurants throughout the year, emphasising this event's lasting impact.

In terms of economic impact, Small Business Saturday is a substantial driver of local economic activity. The event contributed an estimated $17.9 billion based on U.S. consumer-reported spending projections. This significant figure underscores the financial support that small businesses receive during this dedicated day.

The initiative's impact extends beyond the local level, drawing attention from influential figures like former President Barack Obama, who has been seen shopping during one of these days.

Barack Obama visiting Upshur Street Books, a small business library, in Washington DC on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015.

Moreover, the research reveals that if every Gen Z and Millennial shopper spent just $10 on Small Business Saturday, it would generate an impressive $2 billion in local economic activity across the United States. This statistic highlights the immense potential for positive change that lies in the hands of younger consumers.

The study further emphasises the importance of supporting small businesses by showcasing that $0.68 of every dollar spent at a small business stays within the local community. This means that every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional $0.48 in local business activity, as employees and local businesses reinvest in the community by purchasing local goods and services.

How can I take part?

In the USA, American Express offers free marketing materials to promote the event, free content tips and techniques to help you thrive, and the Shop Small Map, a resource for entrepreneurs to maximise their visibility by adding their businesses. 

In the UK, you can actively engage by registering your website in the Small Business Finder, requesting a visit from The Tour to your local business, booking a free mentoring session, and joining complementary virtual workshops facilitated by the Small Business Saturday organisation.

Small Business Saturday is a relatively recent initiative in Canada, kicking off in 2020 and supported by American Express in collaboration with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Despite being in its fourth year, you can already harness its benefits by downloading a free toolkit.

To maximise your impact, share your participation on Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter) using hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday and #ShopSmall. In the UK, consider adding #SmallBizSatUK. In Canada, you can use #keepyourloonielocal and #smallbusinesseseveryday to your posts. Social media engagement extends your reach, connecting you with a broader audience and amplifying the collective celebration of small businesses.

Small Business Saturday is more than a shopping day; it's a celebration of the passion and dedication that small businesses bring to the table. It's a moment to engage with your local community and show what makes your business unique. Join the movement!











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