Independent shops and businesses gear up for Christmas

Written by: Rachel Miller

Date: 28 November 2023

A happy couple shopping on Small Business Saturday

Christmas is the most profitable period for four out of five small firms, according to research by the Small Business Saturday campaign.

A survey of independent business owners conducted by Small Business Saturday and American Express has found that the Christmas trading season will be vital to the fortunes of more than four-fifths (86%) of small firms in the UK. Many say they rely on the income from Christmas to sustain them through tougher times in the year.

Small Business Saturday takes place on 2 December this year. Entering its second decade in the UK, Small Business Saturday has a mission to support and celebrate the UK's 5.5 million small businesses, encouraging people to "shop local" and back small firms in their communities.

"Christmas is such a critical time for us, the six weeks to the big day can generate a huge proportion of our annual profit and sets us on a good footing for the year ahead. The loyal customer base which we have built up over the years is key to having a good festive season, and gently reminding them to shop local and support independents is a huge part of our strategy. Whilst the cost-of-living crisis will most definitely have an impact, we are trading up on last year and customers are still spending, so overall we are feeling hopeful." Greg Rose, co-founder of Maybugs, Sussex.

Encouragingly, 71% of the business owners polled said they believe that customers like to support them in the current climate, while 45% say they are confident about the next six months. However, 31% said inflation is still their biggest issue and 22% are diversifying their operations to respond to hurdles. Almost three-quarters (73%) of business owners say they are collaborating with other local firms to help navigate economic challenges.

Small Business Saturday

"As we enter our second decade, Small Business Saturday's mission to support and celebrate the phenomenal contribution of small businesses across the UK remains just as vital," said Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK. "As things remain challenging out there for business owners, support from the public is absolutely vital, particularly during peak season. I'd encourage all small businesses to get involved and make the most of the spotlight."

A grassroots, not-for-profit campaign, Small Business Saturday was originally founded by American Express in the US in 2010. The event is free and open to all small firms to take part in, with many hosting events, offering promotions and collaborating with other local businesses.

"As a small business owner, I value the spotlight that the Small Business Saturday campaign casts on enterprises like ours. This campaign serves as a call for everyone to consciously embrace local choices, contributing to the creation of innovation and economic growth. Small Business Saturday itself is more than a day of increased sales; it serves as a beacon, reminding customers of the distinctive value small businesses bring to the community." Jen Baptiste, founder, Black Culture Market.

Independent businesses can make the most of the day by:

  • Downloading marketing materials from Small Business Saturday.
  • Hosting an event or running a promotion.
  • Joining the conversation online using #SmallBizSatUK and tagging @SmallBizSatUK.
  • Teaming up with other small businesses and community groups to celebrate the campaign.
  • Registering to be featured on the Small Business Finder map and app.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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