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Op-Ed: Small Business Saturday a success for local merchants

By all accounts, Small Business Saturday was another success this year. Business was booming across Main Street, local downtowns and countless business districts throughout New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for the ninth annual Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24.

The unofficial kick-off to the holiday season places neighbors’ focus on buying with small businesses and local merchants. The day’s result is a win-win scenario for everyone: putting more dollars back into our local economies

There’s a growing trend with many shoppers — instead of supporting brick & mortar stores, they shop with one-click online. Small Business Saturday seeks to level that field, placing the focus back on “mom & pop” shops that sustain and support our communities.

Mass retailers can play a role in convenience and price, but when neighbors frequent a small business, there is a story behind what you are buying — it’s more personal and thoughtful, especially for the holiday season.

Data from Small Business Saturday founding partner American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business finds some 83 percent of consumers say they plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping at a small independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person, or online.

Nearly six in 10 consumers nationwide say they are aware of the shopping holiday, and among them, 80 percent planned to shop at independent retailers.

And they did. Regionwide, Small Business Saturday hit some high marks and scored big thanks to community awareness and local partnerships. For the first time in 2018, American Express expanded Small Business Saturday to Puerto Rico for the first time.

And it was quite successful. No doubt the day was also a success across the region due to the bargains and prices offered, but increased awareness of the day drove community after community into stores.

While additional data continues to come out from this most recent Small Business Saturday, the initial estimates from American Express, the event’s sponsor, are incredible: a reported record high of $17.8 billion spent nationwide by consumers at independent retailers and restaurants.

While we await the official breakdown, community by community witnessed major increases in foot traffic and sales, and, best of all, positive lasting impressions. These numbers also bring total estimated Small Business Saturday spending to $103 billion since the event began in 2010 — a remarkable achievement.

Chambers of Commerce, Merchants Associations, Business Improvement Districts and local governments have helped the U.S. Small Business Administration increase awareness that drives neighbors and families into shops and stores. Countless Americans and families utilized Small Business Saturday to come out and shop at small businesses. They not only turned out for holiday shopping, but to support local commerce as well.

With their patronage of local merchants, customers are supporting their neighbors — the people who live and work right around their hometowns. Small business reaps the benefit. One to one, face to face interactions with those walking through the door allow merchants to spend time with and speak to patrons about their products. The personalization of shopping is almost a lost art but restored with Small Business Saturday. That’s a win for consumers.

Neighbors in community after community across the region need to keep this momentum going by “shopping small” not only during the holiday season, but every day throughout the year. Each of us can support the small businesses in our hometowns by sharing your experiences with your family, neighbors and friends on social media.

By utilizing the #ShopSmall hashtag and tagging your small business of choice, you can also thank the merchants you visit for their contributions to our neighborhoods.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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