Whether you stood in line and engaged in a fistfight over the 20% sale on AA batteries, or you surfed the web to capture a once-in-a-lifetime deal on a copy of Friedrich Hayek’s seminal work, The Road to Serfdom, Black Friday may have given you a case of deal fatigue. No matter where you were, Black Friday promotions were everywhere. But now that the big-box retailers have injected your veins with double-digit savings on waffle makers, perhaps you can show your support for a mom-and-pop shop around the corner that is on the brink of destitution. If you need an excuse to support your local entrepreneurs, maybe you can do it in celebration of Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday: A Primer
It started as a Twitter hashtag about a decade ago. The idea behind Small Business Saturday was to support small businesses on any Saturday and not just the day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the growing popularity surrounding the day after it was promoted by American Express, which later registered it as a trademark. Smaller and local companies have been using it to boost sales amid greater foot traffic – or more eyeballs in today’s case.
Has it been a success? In 2019, more than 100 million people participated in the one-day event. Sales had blossomed to an all-time high of about $19.6 billion.
Will Small Business Be Revived?
It has been a rotten, terrible, no good year for small businesses. From lockdowns to public health restrictions to a financial crisis, it is uncertain if they will survive this once-in-a-lifetime storm. Before the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses were already being squeezed by all levels of government, whether through regulation or the laundry list of taxes. Plus, states are introducing a $15 minimum wage in 2021, making it harder for these outfits of five people to keep their doors open.
According to a study conducted by SurveyMonkey and CNBC, only 30% plan to visit a small business on the final Saturday of November, and just 6% say they will do most of their spending at a local store. This is not surprising, considering other surveys have revealed that consumers are tightening their belts this year. Liberty Nation reported that many shoppers are already planning to reduce their holiday budgets and turn to online venues for their shopping needs.
This is devastating news, especially when you look at the recent American Express Shop Small Impact study results. The research discovered that 75% of small businesses need holiday spending to return to pre-pandemic levels in order to keep their doors open.
Foot traffic might be down, but that does not mean all hope is lost. Many experts have presented strategies that these types of corporate outfits could employ in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small Business Saturday and Beyond
While this weekend could be critical for the shop in your neighborhood, these companies must look beyond it as they head into Christmas. Some changes and new investments will need to be made as part of adapting to the public health crisis. This could include installing touchless transactions, offering local delivery, implementing curbside pickup, emphasizing an online presence, and installing new health and safety measures in the store. These actions not only appease the authorities, but they can also offer shoppers some comfort and assurance that they are protected from COVID-19.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
If it were any other time, Small Business Saturday would be the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, due to government hysteria and overreach, Betty’s Neighborhood Pies and John’s Local Brew will not benefit from the annual festivities. Consumers are tapped out, households are too afraid of contracting the respiratory illness, and many jurisdictions have gotten mad with power, like Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA). Something has to give for the lifeblood of the national economy. Who knows when that will be? What’s worse, it might be too late for these outfits by the time society is saved from a virus or from the politicians, which are practically interchangeable at this point.
Read more from Andrew Moran.