CREDIT: FRILLY INDUSTRIES
Small Business Saturday, an annual grassroots event that promotes small businesses and encourages consumers to purchase from small, local shops, has helped drive an estimated £717m of sales for UK SMEs.
Saturday 3 December was the fourth annual “shop small” day, and the final sales tally was 15pc higher than the previous year, according to a survey by American Express, which polled more than 3,600 UK adults in the 36 hours following the event.
Michelle Ovens, Small Business Saturday campaign director, explained that the significant increase in spending was encouraging for participating stores and supporters. “To see spend reach £249m more this year than on the first Saturday in 2013 – an increase of 53pc – is fantastic. It confirms the positive stories that we're hearing from small businesses in communities across the UK.”
Kirsty Hillyer, co-owner of Frilly Industries, a jewellery-maker based in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, told Telegraph Small Business Connect about how the event had helped businesses in her area. “It was a massive boost to local makers and a validation of their work,” she said.
Ms Hillyer helped organise a pop-up market that featured 44 different crafters from the city. Footfall was impressive, she explained, with more than 2,000 punters visiting the market, despite three other local markets happening at the same time. “We’re looking to host other events at other local venues [next year] and we’ve seen a rise in commissions from the day,” she added.
While there were many markets and in-store offers during the day, with 80pc of local authorities lending support through actions such as free parking, online sales also saw a significant uplift.
Sanjay Aggarwal, co-founder of Spice Kitchen, said that his business had a record-breaking day, with online sales rising by 60pc compared to a regular Saturday. “This, alongside two successful events at the Winter Arts Market in Liverpool and Altrincham Market in Manchester made it a great day for us,” he said.
He added that sales were boosted by offering a free pack of mulling spices with all online orders, an effort mimicked by many retailers, which also created live events and in-store promotions to encourage customers to linger and complete purchases.
Ms Owens added that, while it was a great one-off event, it was important for consumers to regularly shop at local small businesses: “They are at the core of our communities – our neighbours, friends, partners – and need our support year-round to ensure that they can carry on being there for us when we need them.”
Her comments were echoed by Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, who welcomed the celebratory event, and encouraged consumers to support SMEs every month of the year: “It’s important as a nation that we champion small businesses the whole year-round, because everyone benefits when small firms thrive.”