Small independent retailers are “doomed,” said CNBC’s Jim Cramer this week. The failure of Congress and the President to pass a second stimulus package puts retail further into the hands of large retailers, like Walmart, Target, Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon.”
“These companies have picked up a giant amount of allegiance…These companies have wiped out a lot of smaller companies because there’s no stimulus,” he said, leaving Main Streets across the country full of “empty storefronts.”
But when government fails, private enterprise often picks up the pieces and that is just what American Express AXP is doing with its bigger and better than ever Small Business Saturday on November 28.
And this year, Small Business Saturday is just the kickoff of a much larger Shop Small campaign to support small businesses throughout the year and shine the spotlight on how much they contribute to their customers and communities.
“Small Business Saturday started ten years ago to help small businesses come out of the Great Recession,” explains Colleen Taylor, president of merchant services at American Express.
“Back then, we thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen to us, but 10 years later, here comes the pandemic. We started planning early in the year to not just make Small Business Saturday a huge one-day success but to encourage people to shop small throughout the whole season,” she continues.
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American Express has committed more than $200 million to its Shop Small campaign this year and has organized the support of 100 large companies to provide special offers and services to their small business colleagues. The program is called Stand for Small, and it lets small businesses know that big companies, like AT&T, Amazon, Best Buy BBY , BJs, IBM IBM and Dell, have their backs.
“We are all part of a larger ecosystem. It wasn’t hard for us to convince these companies to join us in this effort. They recognize that it’s the right thing to do and it’s good business too,” Taylor shares.
American Express has also incentivized its card members to Shop Small this year, “essentially giving card members additional dollars to shop at small businesses,” she adds.
Even before the pandemic, but most especially after it, everyone recognizes the essential role small businesses play in their communities. An American Express economic study found that 67 cents of every $1 spent at a small business stays in the local community.
And nearly 90% of the 1,000+ consumers surveyed by the company in late October said they feel a personal commitment to support small businesses because of the impact of the pandemic.
They recognize that small businesses are owned by their friends and neighbors and employ them too. Some 95% of consumers believe that supporting small businesses unites their community, something desperately needed after this tumultuous year.
To help drive more customers to small businesses, the Shop Small campaign is encouraging people to put a stamp of approval on their favorite places through social media using a #ShopSmall hashtag.
The company estimates these social media endorsements could add up to $197 billion in value to small businesses. Some 80% of the 500 small business owners surveyed find that positive feedback on social media is a significant driver of business, and some 90% of consumers say they are more likely to shop at a small business that friends recommend.
As important as Small Business Saturday is for America’s Main Streets – last year it generated a record $19.6 billion is spending – this year American Express wants to turn Shop Small into a social movement to help not just small businesses but the economy at large. The Small Business Administration estimates about 44% of the nation’s economy depends upon them.
“Small businesses have been so innovative this year, pivoting to respond to what their customers needed during the pandemic, whether it was curbside pickup, home delivery or getting into e-commerce,” Taylor says, noting that 78% also took steps to support their communities by volunteering their time and donating goods and services to local causes.
“There is no one more resilient than the small business owner. If we can support them this season, then they will have the fortitude and wherewithal to make it through 2021,” she concludes.