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It’s the most wonderful time of the year for retailers—and holiday 2022 should be no exception. That’s because despite current economic uncertainty, all signs point to consumers still feeling the holiday spirit. A recent survey commissioned by American Express and PayPal, and conducted by studioID’s Retail Dive, found that only 10% of shoppers say their holiday budgets would be “a lot less” this year than in 2021.

However, small businesses can sometimes feel that big box stores have an unfair advantage with more latitude to rely on massive discounts to attract shoppers. Fortunately, the survey revealed a bevy of advantages small businesses offer that can help you attract and retain customers—if you take steps to capitalize on them.

One such benefit is the upcoming Small Business Saturday®, which this year takes place on Saturday, November 26, 2022. With 94% of survey respondents agreeing small businesses are important to a community, local merchants can take advantage of this goodwill to make this annual event a win for your customers—and your business.

Small Business Saturday is a community favorite

Small Business Saturday has long been a neighborhood favorite with many people wanting to support their beloved local businesses. This year 53% of consumers surveyed in the American Express Shop Small Impact Study said that they plan to shop small on Small Business Saturday.†

Since its inception, Small Business Saturday, proudly backed by American Express, has highlighted the importance of supporting independently-owned businesses across the country,” says Marianne Rausch, Vice President, Small Business Saturday & Shop Small®. “Now in our 13th year, this mission has never been more vital and we’re incredibly proud to see how Small Business Saturday has grown to become the movement that it is today, with small businesses and communities coming together each year to recognize what makes them unique.

Get the word out: Small Business Saturday needs buzz

While many consumers are familiar with Small Business Saturday, local communities and their residents have opportunities to get involved. In fact, 37% of consumers surveyed were unaware if local merchants were participating in this annual event. That represents a golden opportunity to boost traffic by getting the word out to your clientele, notes Brett Sussman, Vice President Head of Sales & Marketing, at Kabbage from American Express.

Small business retailers can use social media to attract both online and in-store shoppers,” he says. “Leveraging social media can boost awareness via local targeting to drive foot traffic and can also expand nationally to drive online sales with customer-profile targeting. American Express’ latest Small Business Recovery Report‡ showed small businesses are increasingly capitalizing on social media advertising as 47% of them expect it to have the greatest impact on customer acquisition.

The following were some of the types of advertising or marketing that were most appealing to survey respondents.

  • Direct mail: flyer/postcard to shopper’s residence (27.8%)
  • Event held by a favorite store (25.5%)
  • Social media posts from the merchant (25.3%)
  • Advertising on traditional broadcast channels (radio/TV) (22.0%)
  • Signage (21.7%)
  • Email or SMS message that shopper opted in for (21.7%)
  • Event held by several stores in the same vicinity (21.7%)

Creativity helps increase traffic in-store and online

The preference for events, as indicated above, offers an excellent way to anchor Small Business Saturday and inject a sense of festive community spirit. “Since Small Business Saturday started in 2010, small businesses have found fun and original ways to celebrate in their communities— from partnering with other businesses to creating scavenger hunts around town to working with their Chamber of Commerce to host city-wide events,” says Rausch. We have always been excited by the fun ways businesses rally their communities to Shop Small!”

Many small businesses find success offering workshops that align to their wares and help customers feel more confident in their purchases, such as a holiday fashion show or a table decorating tutorial.

Through strong merchandising, you can provide the level of convenience that shoppers crave. For example, you could help boost sales by:

  • Offering curated selections of gifts for those hard-to-buy-for folks like teachers and relatives
  • Creating online lists segmented by budget (under $25, $25 – $75, etc.) to make it easier for gift givers to find what they need
  • Developing grab-and-go baskets for effortless but impressive host gifts
  • Designing appealing gift cards or gift certificates to boost sales today and tomorrow
  • Encouraging customers to treat themselves with a selection of more affordable items that won’t bust their budget

Remember that your Small Business Saturday celebrations can occur both in-store and online. Customers may be looking for you in both places. Blending off line and online shopping channels allows you to cater to shopping preferences that can fluctuate by customers and even by individual day or transaction. Promoting all your options encourages customers to interact with you the way they choose.

As more small businesses aim to engage shoppers online, American Express is able to offer merchants the right technology, data, guidance, and fraud protection to help adjust their businesses through holiday seasons and beyond,” notes Ann Sattin, Vice President and General Manager of Retail, for the National Client Group at American Express.

With Small Business Saturday just around the corner, now is the time to tap into your festive spirit and creative energy to help attract customers who are ready to shop now—and create the engaging experience that will inspire them to shop small all year long. Visit the American Express Shop Small Resource Hub for free materials today.

American Express & PayPal commissioned an online survey to US consumers, conducted by StudioID’s Retail Dive in October 2022. 396 respondents provided input on their small business shopping sentiments. Survey respondents were 18 years of age or older and indicated doing more than 50% of their household’s shopping.

†The American Express Shop Small Impact Study consisted of two studies conducted by Teneo on behalf of American Express. The consumer survey was an anonymous online survey conducted from September 26-28, 2022 among a sample of 1,008 adults 18 years of age and older. Consumer data is weighted by five variables: age, sex, geographic region, race and education to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population, 18 years of age and older based on U.S. Census data. The small business owner survey was conducted online among a sample of 506 small business owners/managers in the U.S. from September 26 – October 5, 2022. Respondent companies must conduct sales in a physical location in one of the following industries: arts/entertainment/recreation, retail trade, restaurant/bar/coffee shop/hotel/hospitality, or personal services.

‡Small Business Recovery Report issued by Kabbage from American Express, September 2022. The online survey was conducted between July 14th – 25th, 2022, surveying 550 small business leaders, including 250 at the smallest small business (<10 employees), 200 at a medium small business (11-100 employees), and 100 at the largest small business (101-500 employees). Respondents represented industries across retail, marketing, healthcare, financial services, technology, food and beverage, construction, automotive, manufacturing, media, professional services, education, agriculture and more. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 4 percentage points.