Small Business Saturday: American Express Hosts 2nd Annual Shopping Holiday

  @nadinedeninnon.deninno@ibtimes.com on November 26 2011 1:17 PM
Black Friday Discounts
First there was Black Friday, then as e-commerce reached popularity in 2005, Cyber Monday was created. Now there is a new shopping holiday: a grassroots movement known as "Small Business Saturday" sponsored by American Express to help flailing local merchants and businesses. Reuters

First there was Black Friday. As e-commerce reached popularity in 2005, Cyber Monday was created. Now there is a new shopping holiday: a grassroots movement known as Small Business Saturday to help flailing local merchants and businesses.

Celebrated for the first time last year, its sponsor American Express promoted its annual deal exchanging $25 worth of credit for spending $25 at a local merchant on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26 nationwide.

Small Business Saturday aims to attract shoppers to local businesses for discounts the same way Black Friday, celebrated in shopping malls and megastores across the country, does.

According to the Web site, Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. On November 26, we're asking millions of people to Shop Small at their favorite local stores and help fuel the economy. When we all shop small, it will be huge.

However, the Saturday shopping event was not created to discourage shoppers from large retailers, but rather to include small businesses in the equation as a counterpart in the holiday shopping madness. As reported by ABC News, a 2004 study from Economic Impact shows that for every $100 consumers spend at local business, $68 remains in the local economy while on $43 remains when the same amount is spent at a chain store.

The grassroots nationwide movement of Small Business Saturday began as a concept thought up by American Express to promote small, independently-owned stores, which total to about 28 million according to the Small Business Administration. The purpose was to help address small businesses' greatest need: driving sales, AmEx said in a press release. It was also an occasion to recognize the importance of small business and their vital contributions to the economy, job creation, and local communities.

Last year, we saw a 28 percent rise in sales volumes for our small business merchants versus the same day in 2009, Senior Vice President of American Express Open Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly said.

The event has received many participants, offering 10,000 small businesses who signed up $100 in free Facebook advertising, and buzz from shoppers and those in politics. As of Saturday, more than 2.5 million people liked the Small Business Saturday Facebook page. On Twitter, over 30,000 tweets using the hash tag #SmallBizSaturday have gone public.

In addition to the social media presence, the official shopping holiday was even endorsed by politicians. AmEx said over 40 elected officials have officially designated and endorsed the day.

Last year, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that small businesses are the glue that holds communities together, according to the New York Post, urging that people go out shopping and support local business.

The initiative to shop at the brick and mortar businesses on Saturday is also supported by other organizations and advocacy groups, including Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).

In addition to giving small businesses publicity, American Express has a special offer each Small Business Saturday for shoppers. Amex cardholders can pre-register to receive $25 credit in exchange for a purchase no less than $25 on Small Business Saturday.

Also, FedEx, a first year supporter, distributed 40,000 $25 Shop Small American Express gift cards for use on Nov. 26.

In 2011, American Express estimated that 89 million shoppers will take part in Small Business Saturday.

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