I’m a “Small Business Saturday” skeptic. Cynically started a couple years ago as marketing and promotional tool by American Express, it may actually be delivering some value to SMBs. According to data provided by AMEX and the National Retail Federation, consumers aware of “Small Business Saturday” spent $5.5 billion on Saturday across the US.
Here’s what’s not exactly clear:
- whether the $5.5 billion was spent exclusively at local businesses or whether it was simply spent overall on Saturday by those consumers aware of the promotion
- whether the promotion actually impacted spending patterns in any way. (Amex offered coupons/rebates as incentives to “shop small.”)
It is clear that this is a big PR and marketing boon for AMEX and that the financial services company is the biggest beneficiary of the promotion. If AMEX truly wants to help SMBs it can lower its card-processing fees and make them more competitive with Visa and Mastercard.
In addition, the notion of “shop locally” or “shop small” shouldn’t be reserved for one day a year; it should be a regular consideration in consumer shopping habits. And while it’s impossible to do so all the time, many people can direct incremental spending to local businesses. This necessarily means buying less from Amazon, eBay and Walmart.com among others.
It’s a kind of corollary of my earlier plea to buy fewer, higher quality items and spend less on them.