Shoppers encouraged to shop local for Christmas gifts on Small Business Saturday

Shoppers are being called on to support small businesses this weekend to help them tackle uncertainties as they head into the festive trading period.

Small Business Saturday, on 4 December, aims to encourage people to spend money in smaller shops, recognising the contribution of independent businesses during lockdown. 

But what is the campaign, and how can you get involved?

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What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday originally began in the USA in the depths of the last economic recession in 2010.

At the time, many small businesses were disappearing from high streets due to the crash.

It was founded by payment card business American Express, which says it kickstarted the event because it “believes small businesses are at the core of every thriving neighbourhood”.

Rather than focusing on price cuts, the Small Business Saturday movement is targeted at encouraging people to go into their local shops.

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In the USA, the event takes place on the Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving, meaning it directly competes with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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Small Business Saturday first launched in the UK in 2013, with American Express acting as the event’s principal partner.

The UK version calls itself a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which aims to highlight small businesses’ successes and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’.

"Throughout the crisis we have been reminded of the special role that small firms play in local communities,” said director of Small Business Saturday UK, Michelle Ovens, at the launch of the 2021 edition of the event.

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“As the UK recovers from the pandemic, small businesses still face considerable challenges to get back on their feet and it’s important we continue to support them.”

How can I get involved?

Many of the UK’s six million small businesses take part in the day by hosting events, offering promotions and collaborating with local councils, community groups and business owners.

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You can get involved by shopping local on Saturday 4 December - especially if you're picking up Christmas shopping or decorations.

Politicians from the UK’s main political parties usually turn out to support Small Business Saturday.

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Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the British economy.

“Despite Government tax rises and growing costs to firms, small businesses owners up and down the country have adapted and continued to do the UK proud.

“I am delighted to be supporting small businesses across the UK this Small Business Saturday, and urge everyone to do the same.”

How much does the event raise?

In 2020, the event was estimated to have seen £1.1bn spent at small businesses across the UK, with more than 15 million Brits turning out to support it.

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