Get Ready To Celebrate Small Businesses
Small businesses and retailers don’t dominate the news headlines like bigger businesses do, but their role is vital for the economy. The problem is, they hardly ever get the recognition they deserve.
Fortunately, Small Business Saturday, which falls on Saturday, November 30 in 2019, shines a spotlight on small businesses. Find out what this holiday means for your small business and how to navigate the challenges small businesses face these days.
Roots Of Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is a holiday celebrated in the UK and the US, where it started in 2010. The idea was to slot in a holiday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That makes the swing between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday one giant shopping spree.
The focus of Small Business Saturday, however, is to encourage buyers not to neglect shopping at their local small businesses. After all, the other big shopping days in this retail event tend to put the spotlight firmly on large, nationwide retailers and their best deals.
Small Business Saturday In The UK
In the UK, Small Business Saturday began around 2013 but it has taken firm root. It’s not as big of a hit as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but this is to be expected since that’s been the experience in the US as well.
There are reasons to pay attention to this day for retailers. According to The Independent
, this could be a great day to connect with shoppers who want offline experiences. Unlike Cyber Monday, Small Business Day enables small retailers to emphasize local connections.
A common challenge for small businesses is figuring out ways to expand visibility
around events or holidays. Small Business Saturday should be easier for you to stand out if you operate a small business. The focus should be firmly on businesses like yours.
Offer One Time Only Deals
Shoppers love getting holiday bargains, and this should be a part of your promotion plans. Offering a one time only deal can encourage shoppers to visit your store to access the offer.
Having a discount is just the start, however. You also need to get the word out, preferably well ahead of the day. Entrepreneur Magazine encourages
small businesses to use social media and hashtags to spread awareness among Small Business Saturday shoppers.
If you have a Facebook page, communicate with your fans about the goods you will have on sale.
Use Signage and Promotions To Drive Traffic
If you operate on the high streets, you can also post signage around your area to drive traffic. Even if you are not located in an area with a good level of natural traffic, you can use online promotions to get more visitors for Small Business Saturday.
One way to do this would be to send an email newsletter or series of emails promoting your offers. In addition, you can run advertising campaigns that generate interest and drive traffic to your store.
Tough Environment For Small Retailers
Celebrating Small Business Saturday in 2019, and likely beyond, is a bit of a sobering experience. Retailers on the UK’s high streets, and elsewhere around the world, face the toughest operating environment in recent history.
Headwinds continue to mount not only for the British economy, but, increasingly, for the world economy as well.
Brexit Has Made Things Tougher
Brexit is more than a political matter. It’s also an economic issue. For businesses, both large and small, it has proven to be a challenge. According to a report in The Guardian
, Brexit-related weakness in the economy has led to a fall in consumer discretionary spending.
Retail sales growth declined from 1.6% in 2018 to around 0.5% in 2019. With the focus of politicians and businesses on Brexit, there has been heightened uncertainty about the outlook of the UK economy.
Not only are businesses wary of making major new investments, but consumers are cutting back on major spending as well.
Long Term Downward Trends
Quite apart from Brexit, according to a Deloitte
analysis of the UK’s retail industry, many other factors are to blame for long term contraction. The study notes that the industry is going through a challenging, multi-year, transformation.
Signs of trouble include accelerating store closures and falling consumer confidence. Net store closures of around 7,500 stores in 2018 exceeded the level seen in 2017 by around 36%. Retailers find their margins shrinking due to fierce competition and rising costs.
Meanwhile, other risk factors cited in the study include a US/China trade war as well as a global economic slowdown. This combination of factors creates a deadly environment for retailers both small and large.
Unexpected Growth For The High Streets
The problems facing high street businesses are many, but there are areas of growth as well. The makeup of the high streets is changing. Certain kinds of businesses, typically, retailers, are closing. Others, however, are opening up. In addition, government efforts look set to help the reboot of the British high streets
Cafes, Restaurants, And Service Businesses Move In
One of the underreported stories about the reconfiguration of the high streets is the nature of businesses moving in. The Office For National Statistics has compiled data
for the years 2012 to 2017 to understand the changes on the high streets.
As expected, there was a decline, around 2%, in the number of retail businesses on high streets. Notably, however, the Office For National Statistics noted a sharp rise in the numbers of certain service businesses during the same time frame. These include:
- Accommodation, restaurants, and food service - recorded 20% growth
- Health and education - saw 8% growth
- Other service industries - recorded 25% growth
The evolution of the high streets could lead to more of these service type businesses and less retailers on the high streets. In other words, the high streets are unlikely to become deserted for long. A different kind of industry and business type will just move in and do business there.
Government Efforts To Revive High Streets
The government is also stepping in to help revive the high streets. These efforts could help small businesses survive the remaking of the high streets. The UK government is making funding and other support
available for local communities to prepare high streets for the future.
Meanwhile, as reported by The Guardian, the transformation
of the high streets is proceeding quite rapidly. As retail stores have shut down, there has been a rapid rise in businesses like restaurants and bars that are likely to play an important role in the future of the high streets.
Making The Most Of Small Business Saturday
If you are a small business, Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to get more customers through the door. You should be using limited time deals to drive new sales to your business.
However, you should also acquaint yourself with the challenges that confront small businesses in this economy. These include Brexit uncertainty and numerous store closures, especially for retailers.
On the other hand, the high streets are being rebooted and certain business types are, in fact, increasing their presence on the high streets. What we are witnessing is not the end, but the beginning of the future of high streets and small businesses’ participation there.