Opinion

Charlie Mullins: Let's get behind Small Business Saturday

3 min read

22 September 2014

It was recently confirmed that this year’s ‘Small Business Saturday’ will take place on December 6 and I’d encourage everyone to back it.

The initiative is designed to urge consumers to spend with independent stores rather than the big chains. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy and, in my book, any opportunity to back entrepreneurialism is a good one.

It’s one of the shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna’s better ideas, but, like all like a lot of Labour initiatives, it’s not an original idea.

It began five years ago in the United States and, like a lot of small businesses initiatives in America has been a real success. The US’s Small Business Saturday, which takes place after Thanksgiving when Christmas shopping momentum really kicks in, has the backing of celebrities and politicians alike.

In 2013 shoppers spent $5.7bn with independent businesses on the day, so you can see why Britain would want a slice of that American Pie for our economy.

However, the first UK Small Business Saturday last year maybe didn’t capture the imagination of the British public in the same way as it did with our American cousins.

According to a poll carried out after 2013’s event, less than half of UK consumers were aware of Small Business Saturday and only half of that number shopped at an independently owned business on the day.

It is worth noting that nearly half a billion pounds was spent with independents that day, but imagine what that number would have been if more had got involved?

Admittedly, the UK version is still a babe in arms compared to the US’ school-age initiative, but I don’t see any reason why, with the right encouragement and information, more shoppers can’t keep the tills ringing at independents for a little longer.

It’s also worth considering the fact that not all small businesses deal directly with the public and these enterprises are equally important to the economy, and job creation.

Perhaps, there should be a day when firms and local councils are encouraged to buy from small enterprises. Although, given the red tape that small businesses have to go through to secure work from the public sector, maybe it should be a Small Business Season!

Charlie Mullins is the CEO and founder of Pimlico Plumbers