Keeping Small Business Saturday Alive in the Era of COVID-19

A few days from now – November 28 – is the tenth anniversary of Small Business Saturday. It’s also the first time COVID-19 will be a factor to be mindful of on this day that celebrates local businesses. This year will be a challenge, particularly with the dramatic increase in diagnoses of COVID-19 cases. If you own a local business and planned on placing the “Shop Small®” badge on display on November 28, be prepared to adapt to a different experience than in the past.

A different year in every way

This paragraph currently appears on the American Express®-sponsored “Shop Small” page.

This holiday season looks a little different, but we can still share joy. Shop Small and support your favorite small businesses – both in-store and online – all holiday season long.

Yes, this year is different than any other. Since 2010, American Express® has worked alongside the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help small and independent neighborhood businesses increase customers and sales during the holiday shopping season. Ironically, the motivation behind Small Business Saturday was to help smaller businesses in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008. That was a past crisis. This is a present crisis.

COVID-19 and the economy

At a critical time of year where local businesses should receive as much support and sales as possible, many potential customers have understandable concerns about safely venturing out to shop due to COVID-19. Some customers, however, may be willing to make the journey to one or two local stores. For this reason, and regardless of how small the turnout may be, business owners must be ready to meet, greet, and serve them – safely, of course.

How can local shops operate on Small Business Saturday?

Depending on what the restrictions for particular towns and cities will be on November 28, there are some general guidelines that local business owners can follow for Small Business Saturday. Many of them follow how stores, shops, and restaurants have been operating for the better part of the year. Obviously, social distancing practices must be followed. In addition:

  • Signs should be placed outside the establishment demanding that masks be worn.
  • Allow a maximum number of customers inside at a single time.
  • Maybe even offer curbside assistance, as many restaurants have done.

For more information and answers, turn to American Express®.

American Express® to the rescue

Here is another paragraph from the American Express® “Visit the Shop Small Studio” page that’s worth noting:

We may not all be able to come together this year, but your customers can still Shop Small® with you all season long. Download ready-to-use materials and use the Shop Small Studio to create all-new custom marketing materials to inspire your community to Shop Small safely with you – both online and in-store.

This year, in an effort to address shopping during COVID-19, American Express® has placed two additional resources on the “Shop Small” site:

  • “Encourage Your Customers to Shop Small® Safely,” which includes a downloadable eBook that provides safety procedures to local merchants as well as videos and advice from industry thought leaders.
  • “Shop Small® Materials for Social Distancing,” consisting of social posts and in-store signage as a guide to customers who may be visiting their neighborhood stores.

Now is the time to maximize your online shopping experience

Please review the two above paragraphs from American Express®. Notice the two mentions of “online and in-store”? While Small Business Saturday has been mostly about person-to-person buying and selling, the reality of 2020 is that a great many more people will do their shopping online. If your small business has an online presence, now is the time to vigorously promote its goods and services via your website and social media. Additionally, having a strong and accurate Google My Business listing is not only important (especially now) but can be effective in making your presence known and popular among local shoppers. Encourage anyone who visits your business to leave a review. The more positive reviews you collect will ensure that your standing stays stronger in a very uncertain time.

Whether or not you plan on participating in Small Business Saturday this year, stay safe and focused for the upcoming holiday shopping season. It is a challenge for all right now.

If you think EGC can help your business achieve greater visibility, contact us to learn more.