Small Biz Saturday sales shrink

December 2017—

An estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to a new survey. That’s down from last year’s 112 million shoppers, which was a 13-percent increase from 2015.

The 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express showed that total spending was an estimated $12.9 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on the day. That’s less than the estimated $15.4 billion reported by American Express last year, which was another decrease from its estimated $16.2 billion spent in 2015.

Most U.S. consumers (70%) are aware of Small Business Saturday, the survey also found, but that doesn’t seem to be translating into sales. E-commerce was the name of the game during the Black Friday shopping weekend, and many smaller businesses offer scaled back e-commerce, if any at all, and few omnichannel services like in-store pickup or delivery of online orders.

All that could present a significant disadvantage. Still, more than a third (35%) of shoppers turned out for small businesses online on that day, too, according to the survey.

It could be that chains’ increasing movement into urban centers, as Target and others Have done, could be taking sales from downtown independents. But generally, larger retailers’ redoubled efforts to perform well in a highly competitive environment is destined to hurt smaller ones.