Now that all the numbers have been crunched and the data is in, it’s safe to say that this year’s Small Business Saturday was on balance a great success. But then many of you business opportunity, franchise and other small business owners know that already, right? At least we hope so given that an estimated 46% of you made the effort to incorporate Small Business Saturday into your holiday marketing strategy this year.
In fact, the overall results of this Black Friday weekend were pretty darn encouraging. And let’s face it, we could all use a little encouragement right now, what with all the gloom and doom about the so-called fiscal cliff looming over us.
So here’s the good news…
According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, U.S. consumers spent $5.5 billion “shopping small” this past Saturday. But perhaps just as important, awareness about this relatively new annual event jumped markedly, prompting American Express OPEN president Susan Sobbott to say it “has become an integral part of the holiday shopping season” after just three short years. In fact, consumer awareness about Small Business Saturday jumped to 67 percent, up from just 34 percent two weeks ago. And nearly half (47%) of those who knew about it did shop small on Saturday as a result. What’s more, American Express card small business transactions were up 21 percent over last year.
Supported by hundreds of corporations and small business organizations as well as elected officials from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., this year’s outcome was also most certainly a result of unprecedented social media buzz about the event. More than 3.2 million people “liked” Small Business Saturday’s Facebook page, while an estimated 213,000 tweets with hashtags such as #smallbizsat and #shopsmall also spread the word.
As for “Black Weekend” as a whole, the world’s largest counter of retail foot traffic, ShopperTrak estimates that foot traffic was up 8.2 percent over last year, and retail sales increased by 2.7% as shoppers spent roughly $22 billion over the course of the four days. Citing the fact that the significance of “Black Friday” is being diminished as the holiday shopping season starts earlier each year and promotions have been expanded across many days, ShopperTrak’s founder, Bill Martin, had this to say: “Even though retail sales were slightly down on Black Friday, traffic and sales for the weekend as a whole increased over 2011.”
Some of that is undoubtedly as a result of unprecedented online buying this holiday season. Great deals coupled with an increasing number of technologically savvy consumers with various hand-held and other devices made for the most successful Cyber Monday to date. According to IBM, sales were up a full 30% from last year, easily eclipsing the 18% to 20% many experts predicted.
Overall, most retail industry pundits agree that this year’s kickoff to the holiday shopping season was clearly a success. That, coupled with the fact that consumer confidence, business spending and home prices are all up, gives many of us reason to believe that the economy may be taking a long-awaited turn for the better and charging ahead. Now all we can do is hope that the politicians in Washington don’t get in its way.