Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday (SBS) is a staple in the post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend. So, what’s the news with Small Business Saturday 2021?

For businesses nationwide, SBS is huge. Find out what it is, who can participate, reasons to hop on board the bandwagon, and how to do it. And, learn how to keep things COVID-safe for SBS 2021. 

What is Small Business Saturday? 

Small Business Saturday is a national shopping day that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, SBS kickstarts the holiday shopping season. Businesses typically offer sales and other incentives to get customers through the door and boost sales. 

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010. Since then, SBS has evolved into a Shop Small® movement that encourages consumers to support local businesses and communities year-round. 

Want to learn more about Small Business Saturday’s history and success? Here are some fast facts about the national shopping holiday according to its creator, American Express:

  • Small Business Saturday began in 2010 
  • In 2011, the Senate passed a resolution supporting the day
  • Consumers have spent nearly $140 billion over the course of Small Business Saturday’s history

When is Small Business Saturday?

This year, Thanksgiving is on November 25. So, Small Business Saturday 2021 takes place on November 27. Here’s the timeline of events:

  • Thanksgiving: November 25
  • Black Friday: November 26
  • Small Business Saturday: November 27
  • Cyber Monday: November 29

Small Business Saturday 2021 is on November 27

Don’t wait until the morning of November 27 to decide to participate in SBS, though. Promote your business’s participation beforehand (which we’ll get into later).

Who can participate?

Small Business Saturday is for small businesses. Of course, small companies need to participate for the shopping holiday to exist. But, they’re not the only entities that can participate. 

The beauty of Small Business Saturday is that anyone can get involved. Just take a look at who all can get involved in SBS:

  • Small businesses
  • Consumers
  • Communities
  • Corporations
  • Government representatives

Organizations can apply to be “Neighborhood Champions.” Neighborhood Champions promote the day publicly to get small businesses and consumers involved. They can promote Small Business Saturday on platforms like social media, blogs, and around town, as well as organize community events.

Attention consumers! Don’t own a business? Don’t have time to be a Neighborhood Champion? You can still get involved. Focus on buying from your local small businesses on Small Business Saturday 2021.

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Benefits of participating in SBS

You put your heart and soul into setting up your small business. Although the coronavirus pandemic brought a number of challenges, you’ve adapted. With the holidays approaching, it can be easy to stress about what effect COVID-19 could still have on your business’s bottom line so far into 2021.

If you want to reap some of the benefits of Small Business Saturday, consider participating. Here are a few reasons why you may decide to get involved in SBS.

1. Build brand awareness

Building brand awareness is key to running a business that customers trust and identify. Regardless of whether you’re a new small business or have been around for years, use Small Business Saturday to build brand awareness.

Millions of consumers are familiar with Small Business Saturday. In fact, Small Business Saturday’s Facebook page alone has over three million likes.

Piggyback on American Express’s SBS national advertising campaigns to build brand awareness for your business and add credibility to your name.

2. Ramp up sales numbers 

Is meeting sales projections a big deal in your business? For most companies, it is. And if COVID-19 impacted your sales in 2020 and 2021 you might be looking for ways to boost it before year-end.

Use Small Business Saturday to ramp up sales. Because it is a prime shopping day, customers might be apt to spend more.

To optimize sales, consider expanding the types of payments you accept. You may begin accepting: 

Some consumers shop exclusively with credit cards or a mobile wallet, and failing to accept these payment methods could cost you business.

3. Show your community you plan to stick around 

Want to build your small business’s reputation? Become an active member of your community to form connections with other organizations and community members. Doing so can improve consumer loyalty and encourage people to rally around your small business.

This Small Business Saturday, show your community what your business is made of. Let them know that your business is a permanent part of the area. And, remind them that their patronage doesn’t go unnoticed.

4. Set your business apart 

Use Small Business Saturday to highlight your business’s uniqueness. Hone in on the things that separate you from your competition by drawing attention to your business’s originality.

To set your business apart, you can:

  • Talk to customers about your business’s history and brand story
  • Connect with customers 
  • Provide a memorable and personalized shopping experience (even if online!)
  • Take time to answer customer questions and concerns

Small Business Saturday isn’t your chance to compete with the huge deals national chains can offer. It’s your opportunity to show customers why potentially spending a little more on quality and originality is worth it.

5. Improve future marketing efforts 

Small Business Saturday is also a great way to build your customer list and therefore expand your future marketing efforts.

When new customers come into your business, grab their contact information. Ask customers for their:

  • Names
  • Emails
  • Phone numbers

And, encourage customers to connect with your small business on social media. Touch base with your new contacts later on through email marketing.

Use Small Business Saturday as an opportunity to get to know new customers. Pay attention to customers’ likes and dislikes by asking questions and tracking their shopping history. That way, you can tailor future marketing efforts.

How to participate in SBS

Do the benefits of Small Business Saturday sound good to you? If so, here’s how to do it—safely—in 2021.   

1. Keep your business open on November 27 or take things online 

This one is a given—if you own a brick-and-mortar store, you need to stay open to participate in Small Business Saturday. But for some, staying open can be tricky during this holiday weekend.

If you do have November 27 free and can stay open, you’re one step closer to participating in the national shopping day…

…Now, how about your employees?

Depending on your business, you may not have enough manpower to keep things running smoothly if you’re the only one able to work. Make sure employees know that your business will be open on November 27 ahead of time to avoid potential conflicts.

You may receive multiple vacation requests from employees asking to take off on SBS. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to accept every request. To manage vacation requests fairly, you need to:

  • Determine how many employees you need 
  • Create a time-off request procedure (with deadlines)
  • Decide how you’ll prioritize multiple requests (e.g., first-come, first-served)

To encourage employees to come into work, consider offering overtime pay or double-time pay for all hours worked on Small Business Saturday.

Going online 

In 2020, a number of stores closed down on Thanksgiving in honor of the pandemic. This year, many retailers (e.g., Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Walmart, and Kohl’s) will close for Thanksgiving 2021. 

You may also consider keeping your doors closed on Small Business Saturday to give employees (and yourself) a break. But if you still want to make sales, you can get things ready for a digital Small Business Saturday. You might consider using an E-commerce platform or join an online marketplace.

2. Follow health and safety guidelines

Small Business Saturday 2021 requires businesses and employees to pay attention to health and safety guidelines.

Unlike in pre-COVID days, customers can’t be crowding into storefronts. Things may look a little different, but you can still have a successful SBS when following health and safety guidelines. Pay attention to federal, state, and local guidelines to keep your workplace safe. 

To adapt your business for SBS 2021, you might:

  • Ask that customers where masks
  • Require social distancing
  • Set store limits

3. Come up with a marketing campaign that conquers

If you’re planning on participating in Small Business Saturday, shout it from the mountaintops. OK, more realistically, you can:

  • Email your current customer list to announce it
  • Post about it on your blog and business website
  • Hang up signs about SBS around your storefront
  • Tell customers to come back for SBS at the point of sale

Leverage social media marketing by posting to your audience that you will be participating in Small Business Saturday. Use targeted hashtags, like #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat, in your social media posts.

Pro tip: Use Amex’s (free) materials for marketing 

American Express has free materials for small businesses to use on Small Business Saturday and year-round, such as:

  • In-store signage
  • Social media posts
  • Email templates

4. Think about special deals you can offer 

To encourage consumer spending on SBS, offer promotions and incentives. First, decide what you want to offer customers. Come up with some creative Small Business Saturday ideas to set yourself apart from every other day.

For example, you might offer:

  • Buy one, get one (free or half off) products
  • Discounts (e.g., 25% off)
  • Bundles (e.g., get a free X when you buy Y)
  • Extra loyalty rewards (e.g., double points when you shop on SBS)
  • Free products (e.g., customized mask for stopping in)
  • Complimentary food or beverages (e.g., free hot chocolate)
  • Exclusive products or services that are only available on SBS 

In addition to bringing in more money, use Small Business Saturday deals to help you get rid of old inventory. Mark down items at the end of their product life cycle for the day. Or, you can include a free, outdated product as a gift when customers make a purchase on SBS.

Once you come up with incentives to offer on Small Business Saturday, promote them in your marketing efforts before the day.

5. Partner with local businesses and give back

This year, you don’t have to go it alone. Small Business Saturday is a community-centric day, so make sure to join forces with other small businesses in your locality.

Partner with other businesses to help you promote your involvement, boost sales, and increase brand awareness. And, joining forces with another small business could be the start of a long and mutually beneficial affiliation. 

Research other Small Business Saturday shops you can partner with. Ask around to see who’s participating, and find out if they’d be interested in doing a partnership. 

You can also get involved with local organizations. Attend events within your community that build awareness and generate attention. And, you can give back to your community with donations or volunteer help.

This article has been updated from its original publication date of October 9, 2020.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.