The Small Business Saturday campaign has seen its most successful year yet, as figures for this year revealed that consumers spent an estimated £717m with small firms across Britain.
The campaign – brought to the UK in 2013 by Labour MP Chuka Ummuna – is a national grassroots initiative that celebrates independent companies across Britain and seeks to encourage shoppers to support local businesses.
American Express conducted a survey of small business owners and shoppers in the days that followed Small Business Saturday 2016 on 3 December, with total sales reflecting an increase of 15 per cent in expenditure on the 2015 event.
The drive in sales was partly due to a willingness of shoppers to part with more money in independent stores than previous years. Some 57 per cent claimed to have “spent more than usual” this year, while online sales with small companies also increased.
In a statement, Michelle Ovens, campaign director of Small Business Saturday, celebrated the success of the initiative and spoke of the “sustained increase” in spending with independent British businesses.
She said: “To see the spend on Small Business Saturday reach £249m more this year than on the first Small Business Saturday in 2013, an increase of 53 per cent, is fantastic and confirms the positive stories we are hearing from small businesses in communities across the UK.”
The success of this year’s campaign also demonstrated the importance of government support. American Express reported that over 80 per cent of local authorities in Britain backed Small Business Saturday, with many offering free parking on the day in town centres, and showcasing what was on offer through various small business events.
With over 130,000 tweets reaching over 120m people on the day – Small Business Saturday UK sat at the top of Twitter’s trending table in Britain – social media was used to drum up interest and raise awareness of the campaign on a national scale.
Alice Noone, marketing vice president at American Express, said she hoped “[the campaign] inspires people to shop small, not just on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the rest of the year”.
The Federation of Small Business (FSB) also championed the importance the campaign in putting small business under the spotlight, as national chairman Mike Cherry stated that Small Business Saturday was a chance to witness what small firms can offer customers throughout the year.
“Whether you’re shopping, buying services or products, choosing where to go for a meal, or building a website – hard working, innovative small businesses in the UK are the first place you should look,” he said in a statement.
Hear what Chuka Ummuna had to say about his ambitions for Small Business Saturday in our exclusive video interview.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.