The holidays are a critical time for small businesses.
As recently as last year, seven out of 10 business owners stated that they viewed the holiday season as a top sales opportunity for their operations. In 2021, with sales projected to grow by as much as 10.5% over last year and bring in nearly $860 billion, November through December revenue could provide a record-breaking a financial boost.
If that happens, it’ll be a positive conclusion to another turbulent year. Small business owners have faced months-long battles with staff shortages and broken supply chains in addition to any other pandemic-related hurdles they’ve had to clear this year. A strong holiday season may even serve to confirm some early-year optimism.
Small Business Saturday, which is set to take to place on November 27 this year, is a day designated to supporting those smaller local establishments at a crucial point in their operations. The U.S. Small Business Administration reported that close to $20 billion was spent during this shopping holiday last year. It’s likely to net even more this fall.
Small businesses rely on local communities to survive, and they deliver valuable benefits to their customers in return. Here are some ways you stand to gain by shopping locally this holiday season.
Customer service counts even more.
Impersonal customer support experiences are not unusual. Issues using a product or service are commonly directed to a chat powered by AI or toll-free number operated by a remote call center. Maybe you’ve even had an unproductive conversation with a store associate. That’s likely because the businesses behind those interactions tend to require efficiency more than one-on-one problem solving when it comes to their customers.
Successful small businesses can’t operate that way. Because their volume isn’t as high as their big-box competitors, they need to make every customer interaction count in the hope that some develop into longstanding relationships.
They’re better prepared to do that, too. For example, employees of smaller businesses are more likely to know what inventory is available and are well positioned to connect you with whatever gift you’re after, even if you aren’t totally sure what that is yet. If you have a positive experience at a small business, it’s as much of a win for them as it is for you.
Quality, creativity, and innovation are always in stock.
If any snags in the supply chain have derailed your gift ideas, small businesses are ready with alternatives. Maybe even some improvements.
Many local businesses are started because owners are passionate about the products and services they’re providing, or they’ve recognized a consumer need. There’s a uniqueness attached to that approach that’s embedded into both what they offer it and how it’s offered. Larger retailers tend to place their focuses solely on the most sought-after items, but smaller businesses have more leeway to pursue products that are a little outside of the norm.
Often quirkier and more innovative, the items you’ll find at a small retailer often reflect the interests of the owner behind those offerings. And because the business is passionate about their work, you’re more likely to walk away with a higher quality product, too.
What you buy builds your community.
Every economy counts on small businesses succeeding, even yours. Recent studies have shown that roughly two-thirds of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the community. Nationally, small businesses have been reported to account for 44% of all economic activity in the U.S.
Choosing to shop locally is an action that supports workers and strengthens regional supply chains – local businesses often buy and sell with other local businesses. Sure, it may seem like you’re only buying a stocking stuffer, but with nearly 47% of Americans employed by a small business, you’re actually investing in your neighbors.
Shopping is a shared experience.
The holidays are typically a time to share annual experiences with family and friends. Shopping at local small businesses may be an opportunity to create a new tradition.
Swapping the often-chaotic atmosphere of a chain store for the quainter setting of a small business can be a fun way to spend time with loved ones as you check items off your wish list. Many local stores even create experiences specifically for the holiday season, like wine tastings or product demos. Your next holiday ritual may be carving out an afternoon to shop at your community businesses.
Feel good about what you’re getting.
A recent survey of customers found that more than 85% of respondents were willing to pay a higher price for a product or service to support a small business. And the reason why they would do that? Trust.
Their more intimate structure provides small businesses an advantage when it comes to developing personal connections with customers. Their employees are often better positioned to understand and act on their customers’ needs and interests. Those behaviors tend to inspire a level of confidence you can’t find if you’re shopping out of convenience.
So, plan to add some local businesses to your list of upcoming shopping stops this Small Business Saturday. Because you’ll likely end up feeling better about what you’re getting and giving.