Despite the prevailing economic gloom, it was amazing to see a huge vote of support for small businesses from across the nation on Small Business Saturday, which took place recently on 3 December. More than two and a half million more people shopped small this Small Business Saturday compared to 2021, according to research by our principal supporter American Express.
Brits rallied to support small businesses with £774m spent in small independents nationwide. The total spend was up by 29.4% on last year as 12.8million shoppers took to their local high street or online to spend with local small businesses.
And as the campaign celebrated ten years in the UK, it was particularly encouraging to hear that 70% of people felt that over the past decade they have become more aware of the positive impact small businesses have on their local communities. What’s more, 65% said they will continue to shop at small businesses throughout next year.
This support comes at a time when small businesses need it the most. It is no secret that business owners are under huge strain, with energy, finance, inflation, and supply chain costs causing daily worries, and thoughts of recession sparking sleepless nights. The question on every small business owner’s mind is ‘how are we going to weather the storm?’.
The answer must be through working together. Small businesses always need our support, but this year it is particularly vital. We all have a role to play; the public, policy makers, central and local government and bigger businesses must come together on this and put entrepreneurs first. And what is particularly inspiring on Small Business Saturday – this year, and every year – is the amount of support that we see emerge from all these corners.
As well as the huge financial backing from the public, local areas were lit up with special events and celebrations organised by councils, BIDs and local groups. Social media feeds trended with community spirit and sparkled with stories of inspiration and collaboration. Leaders across the political spectrum added their weight behind the campaign, with the Prime Minister hosting a special event at Downing Street, as well as the Leader of the Opposition, Mayor of London, and MPs from all over the country adding their support.
Supporting small businesses is, of course, a no-brainer. Small businesses power our country’s economy, employment, and growth. They are at the root of thriving and connected communities, and seeding and sparking innovation. Most people get why it’s important to support these stalwarts of the economy, and have a long list of favourite local business that they appreciate and don’t want to lose.
However, we continue this campaign year after year because it’s vital to keep this high on everyone’s agendas and in the spotlight. Small Business Saturday is an important moment for us all to turn good thoughts into good actions. It is never intended to be about just one day, but having a broader mindfulness throughout winter and beyond.
Consumers are understandably watching every penny at the moment, so when they are able to spend a little many see value and importance in making it count. And where that isn’t possible, other forms of support – like telling family and friends, leaving positive reviews, and cheering small businesses on by telling them about the difference they make – can be just as powerful in terms of inspiring confidence and motivation for small businesses who can often go unrecognised.
If we all continue to be mindful about supporting and championing small businesses in our communities wherever, and however, we can, then this creates a wonderful snowball of opportunity, where amazing things can and do happen. When it’s cold outside and the path ahead looks daunting, this is exactly the kind of magic we all need to get us through.