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Small Business Saturday: A Government Initiative Gaining Momentum

During November and December, businesses historically enjoy a boost in revenue as people begin shopping for the holidays. In fact, holiday shopping on average can account for about 40 percent of a retail store's annual revenue. The epicenter of the holiday rush is Thanksgiving weekend, when Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring shoppers out in droves. Although much of the publicity around the weekend focuses on chains and big box stores, local establishments are getting a boost as people begin to recognize Small Business Saturday, a shopping "holiday" with a community angle.

The event began in 2010, when American Express began offering rebates to cardholders who shopped at local businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Since then, the U.S. Senate has officially recognized Small Business Saturday and 41 governors have expressed their support. Consumers who knew about the event spent an estimated $5.7 billion in 2013, a four percent increase over 2012. Although the actual impact of the event on the revenue of small businesses is difficult to judge, it's clear that any aid to small businesses is good for communities. According to a 2003 study, 45 percent of revenue from small businesses stays within local communities, compared with 14 percent of revenue from chain stores.

Small Business Saturday certainly presents an opportunity to draw in local customers. Many organizations provide information for business owners who want to capitalize on the event. The US Small Business Administration provides business owners with the materials they may need to attract holiday shoppers, including marketing materials and tips for holding events throughout the holiday season. Savvy business owners can connect with the Small Business Saturday Facebook page to push the message out to their local customers via social media. American Express's Shop Small website has more information on promoting your business within your community. Through the Shop Small site, local customers can find your business when they search for small businesses in their community to support, so make sure your information gets listed.

Don't want to wait until next year to get started? The 2014 National Small Business Week is coming up May 12-16 and can be another good opportunity to promote your business.

Emma Sledge is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on

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