UK small enterprises saw success on Small Business Saturday as shoppers came out in force to support them following an extremely difficult year.
Spending at small businesses on the day of the event — Saturday, 5 December — surpassed the billion-pound mark for the first time in the campaign’s eight-year history.
Research commissioned by American Express showed that while footfall was down by 2.2 million on last year to 15.4 million, the average spend per person rose by 56 per cent (from £45.42 in 2019 to £70.74 in 2020).
Tough times for small businesses
It’s widely known that small businesses, including freelancers, have faced an incredibly difficult year due to the coronavirus. Michelle Ovens MBE, director of Small Business Saturday, welcomed the much-needed uplift for businesses: “It is fantastic to see such phenomenal, record-breaking support for small businesses, in one of the toughest years many have ever experienced.
“Small Business Saturday has been running for eight years, but this year’s campaign has been our most vital. We are delighted that it’s generated such a massive boost for small businesses, at a time they are facing huge challenges with the ongoing effects of the pandemic”.
Indeed, 48 per cent of Brits were keen to support small businesses on the campaign day because it’s been such a challenging year.
Small business support from all corners
Many politicians stepped up to draw attention to the campaign including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, leader of the opposition Keir Starmer, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited small businesses on London’s Oxford Street to further promote the event.
It’s been a hard year for all of us, but especially for small businesses who have adapted to the rules to help us drive down the virus.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 5, 2020
On #SmallBusinessSaturday ensure you get out and show your support for the millions of brilliant small businesses across the UK. #SmallBizSatUK
Over 250 small business organisations also endorsed the event, including the CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, Enterprise Nation and Be the Business.
The campaign also drew plenty of support on Twitter with the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday trending throughout the day.
Ovens commented: “I have no doubt that this strong support for small businesses has been driven by recognition of the critical role they played in our communities during lockdown.
“So many firms worked hard to pivot and adapt their businesses during this national emergency, often stepping in to offer useful services, vital products, as well as being a source of practical support and kindness, particularly for the NHS and frontline workers.”
What does the future hold for small businesses?
Ovens suggests that while the results of this year’s Small Business Saturday should be celebrated, the support must be sustained: “While there is light at the end of the tunnel for 2021, with a vaccine, this winter is still going to be tough for many small businesses and it’s so important that we all continue to support them.
“This year Small Business Saturday is not just about one day, but all of the small actions that individuals can do across the winter to add up to one big impact.”
Charlotte Duerden, UK manager at American Express, expresses positivity over small business success going forward: “[I]t’s truly good news that we’ve seen the biggest ever boost to spending with local independents this Small Business Saturday.
“What’s even more encouraging is that this commitment to shopping small looks set to continue, not just this month, but for the longer term.”
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