Almost half of consumers are predicted to shop local tomorrow in support of small businesses
We all saw the furore of Black Friday; businesses, big and small slashing prices and offering an array of bargains in the run up to Christmas, only to be met by marauding customers, trampling each other for a cut-price TV.
Tomorrow’s Small Business Saturday promises to be a much more civilised affair. The event began in the US in 2010 and this will be its second year running in the UK. It is a day dedicated to supporting and inspiring small businesses and encouraging consumers not just to 'shop local' tomorrow but always. Research by Direct Line For Business found that 47% of the populace will support the campaign, generating £543m in sales. The biggest spenders will be in London (with an average spend of £30.44) and the South West (£29.55).
The researched also found that respondents shopped with local independent shops an average of five times a month and 60% of those surveyed said they would buy the same product from a local business as opposed to a national chain store even if it the price was more expensive.
The grass-roots campaign is highly supported by David Cameron, who made a point to mention it in Wednesday's prime minister’s questions before the autumn statement. Other supporters include small business ambassador Karren Brady, dragons James Caan and Piers Linney from Dragon’s Den and co-founder of Lastminute.com Martha Lane Fox. It is also championed by many local councils and MPs and of course by local businesses around the country.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said that as a nation “we do not celebrate nearly enough what small businesses do.” Acknowledging that the UK’s small businesses provide almost two thirds of private sector employment and almost half of private sector turnover, he said, however, “they do not appear in a ‘British Dream’ in the way that entrepreneurs feature in the American Dream we hear so much about.”
“We have got to change this and, in so doing, I believe we can learn from our friends across the Atlantic," he said. And many supporters of the campaign agree with him, hoping it will encourage shoppers to consider their local businesses all year round.
Another study by Sage UK found that small firms generate 75% of their income locally. To help consumers bear local businesses in mind all year, Sage has published a toolkit to provide owners with practical advice for businesses to harness opportunities with social media having found that three quarters of SMEs were not using the medium to engage with customers.
Nick Longden, general manager at Sage UK said: "It's brilliant to see people supporting the UK's small businesses but we want to help business owners remain front of mind throughout the year, every day.” He added: “Local custom is the lifeblood of the majority of small businesses, but many are failing to harness the opportunity to grow that base online."
Bargain hunters beware: fighting over deals where you live may not be the best idea if you intend on continuing to live and shop in your hometown. However, supporting small and local business is never a bad idea.