Small Business Saturday Should Come to the UK

Small Business Saturday Should Come to the UKChukka Umunna, the shadow Business secretary, has suggested that the UK should follow the lead of the USA and encourage shoppers to use local small retail businesses like they do in Small Business Saturday across the Atlantic.

Small Business Saturday is traditionally the first Saturday after Thanksgiving which is itself the fourth Thursday in November.

The initiative has been around since 2010 when people were encouraged to engage more with small and local shops as opposed to big retailers which lure shoppers in on "Black Friday" (The Friday straight after Thanksgiving) and "Cyber Monday" (The first Monday after Thanksgiving).

Mr Umunna has suggested that Saturday the 7th December 2013 should be the day to host the UK’s first Small Business Saturday.

The financial institution American Express has publicised and promoted the initiative in the US via social media, traditional advertising platforms and public relations campaigns.

On twitter the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday has been used for the event but the most popular tag has been the abbreviated #SmallBizSat (Which makes sense when twitter has a 140 character limit)

According to figures from American Express over 3.2 million people "liked" the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and in excess of 213,000 tweets mentioned the event.

Obama Visits Small Book Store

For Small Business Saturday in 2012 US President Barack Obama and his daughters visited a small independent bookstore in Arlington, Virginia.

One More Page Books saw the President buy 15 childrens’ books for Christmas presents and and received an unexpected and welcome boost from the coverage it received at the time.

American Express said that the event saw nearly £3.4 billion spent in small local shops and 2011 saw an estimated 100 million Americans "shop local".

Mr Umunna said of independent businesses:

“We must do more to celebrate the contribution local, small independent businesses make to our economy and encourage people to buy from them.”

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, play a hugely important role in our communities and add to the unique character of each locality.”

On the idea of a day promoting local businesses Mr Umunna added:

“Establishing a Small Business Saturday in the UK, a concept which has enjoyed considerable success in the US, would provide a small but simple and effective way to celebrate local small businesses and encourage more people to buy from them on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.”

“A Small Business Saturday in the UK is something all local authorities, whatever their political persuasion, could support and promote.”

Independents’ Day

However, Mr Umunna seems to have overlooked the fact that in Britain there is already an Independents’ Day celebrated on the 4th of July, the same as America’s Independence Day.

This year the event, organised by Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail and backed by the British Retail Consortium, urged shoppers to shop local and support the small business retail sector.

Small Business Saturday however could have a wider appeal with the story appearing in the British Press.

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