Consumers showed their enthusiasm for local small businesses over the weekend. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express report that spending on Small Business Saturday reached $5.5 billion — over the $5.3 billion originally forecast!  Consumer awareness of the day nearly doubled in just two weeks leading up to the event from 34 to 67 percent, according to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey conducted by the two organizations. Nearly half of those aware of Small Business Saturday (47 percent) shopped ‘small’ on the day.

In announcing the results of the day, NFIB said

“We are very pleased that so many Americans sought to give back by shopping small this Small Business Saturday. We hope that support of small firms, retailers, restaurants and other independent businesses continues throughout the holiday season and all year round. Continued support of this vital sector is one important way to ensure our economy fully recovers and a healthy private sector is restored.”

Small Business Saturday highlights from NFIB and American Express

  • Elected officials in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. championed Small Business Saturday – including President Obama and many senior government officials.
  • The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a Small Business Saturday Resolution, which supports efforts to encourage consumers to shop locally and increase awareness of the value of locally owned small businesses. The resolution received bi-partisan support from more than 40 co-sponsors.
  • More than 350 small business organizations supported the nationwide initiative.
  • More than 3.2 million Facebook users “liked” the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.

Keeping up the momentum

Independent book store Barts Books in Ojai, CA

Small Business Saturday spending indicates that U.S. consumers like to shop where they feel at home and enjoy the experience. Carmine Gallo, a communications coach, writes about the importance of creating such an experience for your customers in “Independent Business Owners Send the Wrong Signal on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday,” running on He advises independent business owners to create a truly unique shopping experience in order to compete with their larger competitors and not try to lure customers in solely through discounts and promotions.

As an example, Gallo points to One More Page Books, the book store that President Obama recently visited with his daughters. The owner Eileen McGervey, in an effort to create a destination shopping experience for customers, hosts discussion groups, young writers’ workshops, visiting authors and wine and chocolate tastings. She also maintains a blog and Twitter account to share information about the community.  (I wish she had a store in my town!)

I couldn’t agree more with Gallo. As you can see in my Small Business Saturday Chronicle, each of my stops throughout the day was at a local small business that provided a unique experience that would never be available in a large chain.

We’d love to hear about your Small Business Saturday experiences, either as an owner or shopper.

Suggested additional reading: How to make Small Business Saturday last throughout the year