Think ‘small’ this holiday shopping season

Exeter, Tulare chambers of commerce hold downtown events Nov. 30 for Small Business Saturday

The Sun-Gazette

EXETER, TULARE – Consumers and small businesses in communities across the country are preparing to celebrate Small Business Saturday, taking place this year on Nov. 30. 

Because two-thirds of every dollar ($0.67) spent at small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community, consumers’ local impact during the important holiday shopping season could be significant. Further, every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services, according to the small business economic impact study from American Express.

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010. This year, the tradition will continue in downtowns across the Valley, including Exeter and Tulare where their respective chambers of commerce will be holding organized events.

A 2018 small business economic impact study, a county-level economic analysis on shopping small commissioned by American Express, provides a closer look at the economic benefits of shopping locally and the impact of small business on communities. The study found that if small businesses in the U.S., defined as businesses employing fewer than 100 employees, were a country, they would have a GDP of $4.8 trillion, equivalent to the GDP of Japan, the third largest economy in the world.

Now in its ninth year, 97% of consumers who plan to Shop Small on the day said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community, according to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, another study released by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, based on a separate survey of consumers.

The survey found that nine in ten (91%) consumers believe it is more important than ever to support small businesses this holiday season, and 83% plan to do at least some portion of their holiday shopping at a small, independently owned retailer or restaurant – either in person or online.

In order to be ready for holiday shoppers, the Exeter Chamber of Commerce offers three tips for this Saturday:

1. Embrace Small Business Saturday. ‘This is one day out of the year where you can tell your story and harness the publicity that naturally surrounds the day,” said Brian Mattingly, CEO and founder of Welcomemat Services. Embrace the day by doing something unique and tell your existing customers about the day through email, mail, and social media.

2. Treat it as the beginning of your year. The start of the calendar year is a hectic time for small businesses. Use Small Business Saturday as an early opportunity to assess the state of your business, said Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer at Neat. Do you need to hire sea­sonal help? Is there new technology you can implement to streamline specific business workflows? Use Small Business Saturday to complete a holistic assessment of your business operations, Miller said.

3. Stock up on potentially popular Items. The last thing you’ll want is to run out of your most popular merchandise before the season is over. That’s why it’s critical to understand your product or service demands during the holiday season, said David Gilbert, CEO of small business lender National Funding. Plan strategically in advance, he said, and stock up on popular items.

4. Offer special discounts and offers. Like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is a great day to offer special deals to entice customers. A 2016 survey by Infusion­soft and Pollfish.com found that the most popular Small Business Saturday promotions in 2015 were limited time offers (24 percent), free gift offers (21 percent), coupon discounts (20 percent) and buy one, get one free offers ( 19 percent).

5. Reinvest in social media. When your small business gets busy, social media is often the first thing to get pushed aside. But it should be critical part of your marketing plan. Mattingly suggests creating a story on social media with pictures that speak to the purpose of your business. “Creative and purposeful content can capture the attention of consumers, which, in turn, creates shares and engagement,” he said.

6. Boost your other marketing strategies. Aside from social media, take the time to rethink your marketing strategy and increase your advertising plans, said Gilbert. He recommends that business owners create a comprehensive marketing campaign that will draw custom­ers to their store.

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