Shop local on Small Business Saturday

Michelle Ovens MBE, director of Small Business Saturday at Media City in Salford during a national bus tour.
Michelle Ovens MBE, director of Small Business Saturday at Media City in Salford during a national bus tour.

Customers are being urged to shop local as Small Business Saturday returns after a record-breaking year.

The grass roots campaign, which is staged on the first Saturday in December in the UK, encourages people to go out and support all types of small businesses. Whether they are online, in offices or in stores.

Michelle Ovens MBE, director of Small Business Saturday at Media City in Salford during a national bus tour.

Michelle Ovens MBE, director of Small Business Saturday at Media City in Salford during a national bus tour.

Last year’s event drew some high profile backing with the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Mayor of London championing it. And more than 90 per cent of local councils supported it too.

The dedicated day of helping small independent retailers began in the USA nine years ago. Small Business Saturday came to the UK in 2013 and is the UK’s most successful small business campaign, say its organisers.

The 2018 edition saw an estimated £812 million spent in small businesses across the UK on the day, according to research commissioned by founder and principal supporter American Express. It topped 2017’s total and previous record of £748 million.

This year Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, December 7.

The Little Welsh Dresser boutique in Llandeilo is one of Small Business Saturday's Small Biz 100 businesses.

The Little Welsh Dresser boutique in Llandeilo is one of Small Business Saturday's Small Biz 100 businesses.

Michelle Ovens MBE, director of Small Business Saturday, said: “Each year this campaign has grown in support from government, business and communities alike, and so we can’t wait for December to come round and put small businesses in the spotlight once again. Small businesses are the heart of their communities with 5.6 million keeping their local economies moving, providing jobs, training and unique services.”

The campaign for Small Business Saturday began in earnest at the end of August with a 100-day countdown to this event. It focussed on a hundred of the UK’s top small businesses.

These ranged from cruelty-free cosmetics in Barnsley, to creative coding in London, to cross fit in Caerphilly. The Small Biz 100 features a range of unique independent businesses who each contribute to their communities and offer something different.

Day one was held at the The Butchers Social, Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire. It began life as a nine-month pop-up in an old butcher’s shop and is now one of the county’s leading independent restaurants.

A poster urging people to find their local heroes on Small Business Saturday.

A poster urging people to find their local heroes on Small Business Saturday.

Michelle Ovens added: “Small Business Saturday’s increasing popularity means it was harder than ever to choose just 100 of this country’s incredible 5.6 million small businesses to showcase, but we believe those we have chosen are true representatives of the diverse, creative and inspiring heroes at the heart of our communities.”

And the countdown intensified in November when the annual Small Business Saturday nationwide bus tour kicked off in Blackpool.

Michelle said: “We were excited for the Small Business Saturday bus tour to launch in Blackpool, a town that has faced no shortage of challenges over the past ten years. But like so many towns and cities up and down the UK, what helps to keep its economy firing and its community in work is its small businesses.

“Small Business Saturday is a campaign that celebrates these heroes – a day to celebrate the work they do in their communities, and we have seen the long-term results with record numbers spent on Small Business Saturday each year.  But this is not just a campaign for one day, we want it to inspire more people to support their local independents on a regular basis. The bus tour is another way we are able to recognise the contribution small businesses make in towns across the country.”

Campaigners supporting the Small Business Saturday bus tour in Blackpool.

Campaigners supporting the Small Business Saturday bus tour in Blackpool.

The bus tour offered free mentoring sessions to small businesses and also featured a special ‘Blue Sofa’ interview series. Small businesses, entrepreneurs and leading local figures shared stories about their small business or their local area to a Facebook live audience.  Speed networking sessions were held at each stop and small businesses will also had the chance to have their logo featured on the bus throughout the month via a social media competition.

Last year The #SmallBizSatUK campaign trended in the UK top five on Twitter and reached over 100 million people globally. 

The 30-day bus tour’s itinerary included stops at Llandudno, Halifax, Derby, Edinburgh, Peterborough, Brighton and Canterbury. It finished in Central London on December 4, just before the main event on Saturday, December 7.

However, Michelle added: “But this is not just a campaign for one day, it is a year-round celebration of small businesses and we want to ensure the long-term success of those high street heroes and digital stars, with a campaign that showcases their contribution for months before and after Small Business Saturday.”

FACT FILE:

Small Business Saturday is a grassroots, not-for-profit campaign.

Award-winning gift shop Lily Blue Gifts And Home Ltd in Hagley, Stourbridge is one of Small Business Saturday's Small Biz 100 businesses.

Award-winning gift shop Lily Blue Gifts And Home Ltd in Hagley, Stourbridge is one of Small Business Saturday's Small Biz 100 businesses.

It was originally founded by American Express in the USA in 2010. American Express remains the principal supporter of the campaign in the UK, as part of its on-going commitment to encourage consumers to shop small.

The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses.

On Small Business Saturday, customers across the UK go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores.

Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.

For more on Small Business Saturday see: www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturdayUK.