4 Reasons to Shop Small Business Saturday

In a time marked by widespread supply chain disruptions and inflation, underdog small businesses deserve our attention. Enter Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is an annual event created by American Express that encourages consumers to shop at small businesses during the busy holiday season. It takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Here’s why you should consider shopping small for the holidays, and what to expect.

1. Main street businesses need support

The pandemic hit businesses hard. Roughly 200,000 additional establishments — mostly small ones — permanently closed between March 2020 and February 2021, according to a Federal Reserve report. That’s on top of the pre-pandemic rate of roughly 600,000 annual closures. Many surviving businesses are still at risk, due to factors like deferred rent payments and overdue credit card bills. Your patronage could give them a fighting chance.

Shopping and dining on Small Business Saturday is one way to show appreciation for local businesses, especially those we’ve depended on during the pandemic.

Remember the restaurants you got takeout from during stay-at-home orders? Or the skin care boutique that supplied you with hand sanitizer? They were there for us when we needed them; let’s return the favor.

2. Communities and the environment benefit

The dollars you spend on Small Business Saturday make a difference beyond retailers’ doors. Small businesses create local jobs and pay local taxes, which keeps money circulating within communities.

Shopping small for the holidays can also be environmentally friendly. When locally owned businesses locally source raw materials or manufactured products, it reduces the distance that goods travel.

3. It can offer a better shopping experience

Ongoing supply chain issues and inflation mean shoppers will likely see less inventory and higher prices this holiday shopping season.

Flashy doorbuster deals that big-name retailers traditionally flaunt during holiday sales might be harder to come by. Shoppers can expect sold-out items and shipping delays in categories like toys, luxury goods and consumer electronics. Small Business Saturday shoppers might fare better, depending on what they’re searching for. Shops that sell secondhand goods or items produced in the same community will be shielded from much of the supply chain disruption.

Shopping small for the holidays boasts other advantages, too. Shoppers can receive more personalized service and experience smaller crowds. Many small businesses also entice customers with exclusive discounts, promotions or freebies on Small Business Saturday — so saving money is still on the table.

4. You can find unique gifts

Shop at Target, Walmart or Best Buy and you’ll find little variation among their product selection. But shopping small means finding something special and unique. Maybe that’s handcrafted jewelry, a print made by a local artist, a vintage record player or a gift card for the best bakery in town. See what interesting, rare or one-of-a-kind gifts you can discover on Small Businesses Saturday.

Tips for Shopping Small

Check your favorite local retailers’ websites and social media pages for store offerings, hours and event announcements in the days leading up to Small Business Saturday. You can also find participating businesses online using the American Express Shop Small map or by exploring hashtags like #shopsmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday.

Then, start gathering ideas for your gift list. You can get a sense of what might be in stock and within budget when Small Business Saturday arrives. Start shopping now; it's never a bad time to support your local economy!

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.