Small Business Saturday organisers are calling for a significant show of support across the UK as news of the Omicron variant sees small businesses facing fresh uncertainty and challenges as they head into the crucial festive trading period.
The UK has a history of championing the high street – particularly during the pandemic – and Saturday December 4 will see customers across the country being encouraged to support their local small businesses, both online and instore.
Originally a grassroots campaign, Small Business Saturday was designed to highlight the success of small businesses while encouraging consumers to ‘shop local’ and support their community.
Now in its ninth year in the UK, the movement has grown significantly since then. A record £1.1 billion was spent with small businesses on the first Saturday in December last year, as 15.4 million people choose to lend their support and shop small.
But there is still work to be done. Research from partner American Express found that while small businesses are starting to feel more confident (70 per cent feel positive, compared to 52 per cent in May) – the cost of goods, rising energy costs and product shortages remain significant challenges.
While over half of the consumers surveyed (50 per cent) now support local independents more than before the pandemic, people are still being encouraged to recognise the huge contribution of independent businesses to communities in lockdown.
“We all need to show small businesses our love this weekend,” said Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK. “Not only do they make a massive contribution to our economy, but [they also make] an immeasurable difference to all our lives.
“Despite demonstrating incredible entrepreneurialism and agility – alongside the support they’ve shown staff, customers and communities – many are still facing a really tough time,” she continued.
“Small Business Saturday is a fantastic chance to get behind these firms and say a big ‘thank you’ for how amazing they are.”
Tillie Peel, founder of The Pop-Up Club, agrees that Small Business Saturday is a key calendar event for independent and small traders, but also says that shopping small and local should be happening more than once a year.
“We know that investing in small businesses within the retail sector can drive money back into the local economies, and we have seen it throughout the past two years,” she said.
Last year The Pop-up Club generated £140,000 for small businesses via its pop up shopping spaces and markets. That rose to £200,000 for 2021.
“Events like Small Business Saturday can give smaller and more independent businesses the opportunity to continue to encourage consumers to shop small and local,” Peel continued.
“And with so many people turning pandemic projects and side hustles into fully-fledged small businesses in the last 18 months, there’s never been so many independent retailers to choose from.”