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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Going small promotes holiday cheer

Small Business Saturday is just a few days away: Nov. 27. But even without a national program urging them to do so, consumers seem intent on spending at least some of their holiday shopping time at local small businesses, according to recent research.

Small Business Saturday, conceived by American Express 12 years ago to promote holiday shopping at small shops, falls on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, Small Business Saturday comes during a campaign AmEx calls Shop Small. That campaign is part of a larger commitment by AmEx to drive $100 million in consumer spending to small business from 2021 through 2023.

AmEx reported that 42 percent of consumers it recently surveyed plan to shop small on Small Business Saturday, and 80 percent said they are likely to shop small businesses throughout the holiday season. Seven in 10 consumers told AmEx they are more conscious about making sure they shop at small businesses this year compared to previous years, and they specifically seek out small businesses when shopping.

Research by California-based Union Bank found consumers are just as likely to shop in-person at small businesses (77 percent) as large retailers (77 percent). And roughly half of respondents told Union Bank they are willing to spend up to $10 more on an item to support a small or local business. About three in four said they plan to spend up to half their holiday shopping budgets at small businesses.

"The last year has demonstrated how important it is to get out and support your favorite local business," said Makenzi Farquer, a business owner in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Get creative, offer BNPL

Todd Hollander, head of business banking and small banking at Union Bank, said small business owners need to get creative this year to attract consumers. He pointed to several types of experiences consumers are looking for at small businesses this holiday shopping season. These include:

  • Special sales, discounts and promotions (64 percent said that's what they're looking for)
  • Unique, exclusive gifts (59 percent)
  • Online ordering options (48 percent)
  • Cheery, holiday experiences (46 percent)

"Now more than ever, small business owners need to be creative and consider prioritizing low-cost, easy strategies to help motivate consumers to shop with them this holiday season," Hollander said. "Fortunately, it's not too late—something as simple as creating a spirited ambiance with holiday décor and music, or offering free local delivery, could go a long way in motivating customers to choose a small business over a major retailer." To this list, add new and emerging payment methods, like account-to-account (A2A) and buy now, pay later (BNPL) options, said Pranov Sood, vice president for small business at GoCardless. "Adding options will give you an edge, both in terms of catering to customer preference and providing a more seamless checkout experience."

San Francisco-based GoCardless, an A2A payments company, said its research found 68 percent of consumers plan to shop at small businesses this holiday season. More than three-quarters (78 percent) said they would shop with a lesser-known brand if the store offered a wider range of payment options than more well-known competitors. One option that appears to be a favorite with many consumers is BNPL, with 42 percent planning to use it during the holiday season, GoCardless said. Small businesses that offer BNPL could see a big boost in sales, too. Nearly a third of consumers the company surveyed said they would be willing to pay up to $99 more for an item if BNPL were an option; 26 percent said they would spend up to $200 more. end of article

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