Report: Sales were down on Small Business Saturday this year

Small Business Saturday, the day designated and branded by American Express for shopping local, wrapped its eighth year on November 25. The results are in; here are some of the big takeaways from a report released by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses:

  • 108 million shoppers spent $12.9 billion at small, independent businesses nationwide on Saturday, November 25.
  • That’s down from 112 million shoppers spending over $15 billion on Small Business Saturday in 2016.
  • 43% of Americans shopped or dined at a small business on Small Business Saturday this year.
  • 35% shopped online at small businesses on that day, as well.
  • While not as ubiquitous as Black Friday, the Small Business Saturday brand is growing, with 70% of consumers saying they’re aware of the day.

These results are interesting and reinforce some predictions we made heading into the 2017 holiday shopping season. We looked at holiday spending at 250,000 small businesses last year and learned a few interesting facts:

1. Black Friday is a bigger sales day than Small Business Saturday for local retailers

As we wrote recently, last year holiday sales peaked at local retailers on Black Friday, not Small Business Saturday. In fact, while Small Business Saturday was one of the top sales days for most states, Black Friday was the top revenue day of the 2016 holiday season in 49 of 50 states.

The general pattern we saw in last year’s small business retail sales was a big bump on Black Friday, followed by a modest one on Small Business Saturday. Local retailers then saw regular spikes every weekend leading up to Christmas, with a big lift on December 23 as procrastinators wedge in last-minute shopping. Take a look:

2. Small Business Saturday is a big deal for restaurants

The full Small Business Saturday report from American Express shows a map of the most visited small business types in each state. Nationally, restaurants and food and beverage businesses did better than retailers:

  • 41% dined at a local restaurant, bar, or pub compared to 24% who shopped at a clothing or accessories store
  • 19% said their favorite purchase of the day was at a restaurant, bar, or pub compared to 9% who said their favorite buy came from a clothing or accessories shop
  • 30% said they most closely associate restaurants, bars, and pubs with their local community, with small retailers not even making the list

Our data backed up the notion that Small Business Saturday is a big day for local eateries. We found that restaurants saw a 23% bump in sales on Small Business Saturday in 2016, which was much better than the essentially flat sales they saw on Black Friday. The 23% lift was nearly as high as the 29% spike restaurants saw on New Year’s Eve last year.

If you run a local, independent restaurant, Small Business Saturday is a good day to be open, fully staffed, and heavily promoting. People are sick of cooking and eating leftovers, and they’re eager to get out of the house and hit the streets. In fact, the American Express/NFIB report showed that 58% of consumers shopped at more than one local business or restaurant on Small Business Saturday this year.

3. Online shopping can benefit small businesses, too

Around 90% of all global sales still happen in a physical store, so there’s no reason to think every company needs to become an e-commerce retailer tomorrow. But, it’s interesting that 35% of consumers who shopped with small businesses on November 25 made purchases at those companies online.

The big takeaway is that even brick-and-mortar businesses can make incremental revenue by allowing consumers to purchase online. Some shoppers want the experience of seeing, touching, or trying before they buy. Others want the convenience of click-and-ship. If you run a small retail shop, offering an online shopping option isn’t a terrible idea.

How did your small business fare on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday this year? Drop us a line at press@womply.com and we’ll profile your company on our blog.

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