Business development · 14 December 2015

Small Business Saturday success for retailers – but festive season still presents challenges

small business saturday
Small Business Saturday was a success but independent shops now have to compete with heavy discounting

SME retailers saw sales increase by 16 per cent this Small Business Saturday, according to new research by inventory management provider Brightpearl.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also hailed the occasion as a success, reporting that UK shoppers spent £623m on the day of the event – and highlighting that some 75 per cent of local authorities threw their support behind the campaign, compared to just over half in 2014.

Yet the Brightpearl research also revealed that Black Friday takings remained unchanged for small shops in 2015 – and average spend per customer fell slightly.

“The impact of the two key dates of Black Friday and Cyber Monday wasn’t anywhere near as significant as in recent years,” said Brightpearl chairman Charles Grimsdale. “And fact that the value of the average order dropped £16 from 2014 suggests retailers have been heavily discounting.”

The Post Office was also expecting £160m of goods purchased online over the Black Friday weekend to be sent back on December 12 – with almost two thirds of shoppers returning purchases over the penultimate shopping weekend before Christmas.

And big retailers continued to offer discounts after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Telegraph reported on December 11 that shops including John Lewis, Laura Ashley, Tesco and Argos had slashed prices of popular items lower than they had been on Black Friday.

Additional research by PwC found that almost two thirds of retailers were advertising promotions and discounts two weeks before Christmas.

“Benign market conditions and fading memories of past Autumn economic shocks mean we’re now into the fourth year of consistent behaviour by the retailers on the high street – certain retailers promote heavily and go early, others never do. Those that don’t are often vocal about it and hold their nerve right up to Christmas. So customers are well informed and can play a longer game – especially with Christmas Day being at the end of the week this year,” PwC retail partner Mark Hudson told The Retail Gazette.

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Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.