Small Business Saturday, why it mattersAfter all the screen-tapping and mouse-clicking of last week’s Black Friday, it is an opportunity to celebrate the rich tapestry of UK independent SMEs and the contribution they make to the economy, by getting out and helping to get the tills ringing up and down the country. Taking place this Saturday, it is a campaign that’s now in its seventh year and is, like Black Friday, an idea adopted from our American cousins where in 2020 it celebrates its 10th anniversary.
The initiative is workingAfter getting off to a slow start it looks like it has gained traction with the British public with research carried out by American Express revealing that on Small Business Saturday last year, SMEs took an extra ?812 million, up from ?748 million in 2017. Around two-thirds of people questioned by American Express who are aware of the initiative said they spent more than usual with independent firms on Small Business Saturday. And like any good trend, I am sure that the political parties will be keen to jump on the bandwagon as part of their campaigns in the countdown to polling day on 12 December. I just hope that as well as getting great photo opportunities at independent coffee shops, fashion stores and gift boutiques, the politicians take the time to listen to the business owners who need Small Business Saturday as they battle to be heard against all the noise made by the huge chain stores and supermarkets that dominate their markets.
Business ratesIssues such as business rates continue to dominate the agenda for small firms as well as the skewed tax system that benefits online retailers, such as Amazon, that are not paying their fair share. All businesses ask for is a level playing field, which will allow them to flourish. While they won’t have the buying power and resources of their massive competitors, they bring a unique approach and personal touch that can’t be found from chain stores. And anyone who ventures out this Saturday in towns and cities across the UK will find an abundance of creative, exciting and downright brilliant local independent businesses.
RetailersOf course, Small Business Saturday is very much geared to supporting retail firms, who are in their constant battle against industry giants on an ever-depleting high street battlefield. But it’s also a great opportunity to fly the flag for other SMEs, from service providers, be they anything from accountants to window cleaners, to those that don’t deal directly with the public. I’ve always thought that a good extension to Small Business Saturday would be an initiative to encourage large firms and councils to buy from small enterprises. All these small and medium businesses make important contributions to local economies, employing local people. Their impact, both economic and social, cannot be underestimated and should be supported by us all.
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