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Small Business Saturday Fortified for 2020 as “Shop Small” Campaign Promotes Year-Round Support for Local Retailers

  • American Express, which launched Small Business Saturday in 2010, makes it part of year-round “Shop Small” campaign to support local retailers impacted by COVID-19
  • Main Street shops hoping holiday sales can take them into 2021, when COVID-19 vaccines are expected to add more economic stability
  • Campaign includes social media promotions and support from larger companies

When American Express introduced Small Business Saturday in 2010, it was meant to encourage holiday shoppers to support their local shops during the Great Recession. With many small retailers suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the credit card company is using Small Business Saturday to kick off a year-round campaign to support these businesses.

Set on the day after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday focuses on Main Street stores and has often been paired with Christmas tree lightings and other holiday celebrations. Amex estimates that 110 million people shopped local on Small Business Saturday in 2019, pumping $19.6 billion into their local economies.

Yet the cancellation of holiday events will take away the foot traffic that has often brought people into local stores on Small Business Saturday, and many retailers are struggling to keep up with fixed costs. A recent Amex survey found that 62 percent of these store owners said they need to reach pre-pandemic sales levels by the end of the year in order to stay in business.

Amex’s “Shop Small” campaign asks customers to support their local merchants throughout the year. One crucial part of this effort is encouraging people to share their experiences on social media with the hashtag #ShopSmall. Amex estimates that social media endorsements are worth approximately $197 billion to the small business economy, with about 89 percent of people showing willingness to check out a business if family or friends recommend it.

The $200 million campaign, the largest one Amex has launched to date, includes a “Stand For Small” coalition of more than 100 larger businesses offering special offers and services to small businesses. Amex has also launched efforts to support Black-owned businesses and provide businesses with resources to help recover from shutdowns caused by COVID-19.

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