Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25, 2023) is the perfect opportunity for local brick-and-mortar businesses to shine. In 2022, it was the second-busiest day for in-store shopping after Black Friday, according to the National Retail Foundation. This annual shopping event encourages consumers to support small businesses in their communities during the holiday season.
To help you make the most of this day, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of Small Business Saturday ideas that will help your business thrive—whether you’re a new entrepreneur or an established store owner.
Small Business Saturday is an initiative that was first launched in 2010 by American Express. It occurs on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, which is Nov. 25 for 2023. Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop locally and support small businesses over that weekend and during the entire holiday shopping season. It has since gained significant traction over the years and is now a crucial part of the holiday shopping calendar.
Take advantage of consumer buying potential and small business enthusiasm by employing some of the Small Business Saturday promotional ideas listed below.
Store Promotion Tips
Even before the big day, there are a number of ways to prepare your business for Small Business Saturday shoppers. This includes doing early promotions, making the most of your physical storefront, and offering more convenient options for buyers.
1. Start Early
The holiday shopping season is kicking off earlier each year. About half of consumers begin their shopping before Oct. 31—not everyone waits for Thanksgiving weekend. To ensure that you capture even the earliest holiday shoppers, plan and promote your Small Business Saturday deals and activities well in advance of the official shopping weekend.
2. Decorate Your Storefront
Catch the eye of passersby and decorate your storefront with related decorations and signage. An inviting and visually appealing storefront can entice potential customers and encourage foot traffic. Make it obvious there’s a special event coming up or currently happening. Use signage that pops to communicate the latest.
3. Use Hashtags
You can use popular hashtags like #ShopSmall or #ShopSmallSaturday to increase your business’s visibility and encourage your customers to use it when sharing their purchases and experiences on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also boost your social media presence by developing a branded hashtag specifically for Small Business Saturday. This will help generate buzz and create a sense of community around your event—as well as evoke fear of missing out, or FOMO, among those who don’t attend.
4. Offer Curbside Pickup
For some Small Business Saturday shoppers, convenience is the name of the game. Facilitate quick and convenient pickups for online orders to cater to busy shoppers. Check out these resources to help you get started:
- How to Set Up Click and Collect for Retail in 5 Steps
- 20 Buy Online, Pick Up In-store (BOPIS) Statistics for Businesses in 2023
5. Have Extended Shopping Hours
Accommodate late shoppers by extending your store’s operating hours on Small Business Saturday. Longer hours can attract additional sales and cater to those with busy schedules.
At my store, we stayed open an hour longer than the other boutiques in our neighborhood. This allowed us to capture all the after-work traffic, giving us an influx in sales almost every evening during the month of December.
Deals & Discounts
Exclusive deals and discounts are some of the primary reasons shoppers look forward to shopping on events like Small Business Saturday. To capitalize on this, you can use gift bundles, free swag, and other enticing product deals.
6. Create Gift Bundles
Bundle related products together and offer them at a discounted price to encourage larger purchases. Consider wrapping them in nice packaging to appeal to shoppers looking to buy holiday gifts for others. More than half of holiday shoppers say they actually prefer small businesses to large retailers because the former has more unique gift ideas.
Erie, PA-based Werner Books bundles together pre-wrapped books, coffee mugs, and coffee or tea for Small Business Saturday and holiday shoppers. It uses what it has learned about its customer preferences to bundle together products its shoppers prefer.
7. Offer Exclusive Discounts
Provide special discounts or offers available only on Small Business Saturday to incentivize shoppers to come in and shop. Bohemia, in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, offered shoppers a 10% discount on a single purchase as well as a free ornament to boost sales during the shopping event.
8. Give Away Swag
Promote your business by creating branded merchandise for customers to commemorate the day and remember your brand for a long time to come. This merchandise serves as a form of advertising and a tangible reminder of their support for your business.
9. Offer a Freebie
Encourage purchases and drum up hype by offering freebies with qualifying purchases or store visits. UK-based Stripes Fashion gave festive gifts—including manicures, beauty packages, and product freebies—for its Small Business Saturday promotion. Similarly, artisanal spice and tea company Spice Kitchen gave free mulling spices to direct customers on the shopping holiday. It attributes this promotion as a factor to a 60% increase in online sales.
10. Create Limited-edition Products
Design exclusive Small Business Saturday products or packaging to make the day even more special. These limited-edition items can create a sense of urgency and exclusivity—plus, they’re often more shareable.
By putting a spotlight on local talent and causes, Small Business Saturday is a wonderful opportunity for businesses to work together through events and cross-promotion.
11. Organize a Small Business Saturday Event
Host an in-store event with live music, giveaways, or workshops to draw in shoppers and create a festive atmosphere that encourages them to linger.
Waldo, a neighborhood in Kansas City, held its own Small Business Saturday event in coordination with local businesses. But you can also do this at a store level. Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria, Virginia, for example, hosted a Maker’s Market to commemorate the day. This showed support for local artisans and drew people in to patronize the business.
12. Collaborate With Other Local Businesses
Partner with complementary local businesses to cross-promote each other and offer joint discounts or promotions. Many towns and municipalities will actually foster this collaboration.
Port Washington hosted a Shop Hop Event for 2022’s Small Business Saturday, working with a variety of local businesses to encourage consumer participation. Promotions included a handy map to help shoppers navigate participating businesses.
13. Showcase Local Artisans
One of the main ideas behind Small Business Saturday is to support local shops and makers. You cannot only promote your own business but also uplift local artisans and their products in your store, giving customers a unique shopping experience.
In the Milwaukee area, La Finca Coffeehouse created a space for local artisans and creators to set up and sell their goods. This lured in foot traffic likely to make a coffee or related purchase during their visit.
14. Support a Local Cause
Partner with a local charity or cause for your Small Business Saturday sale and show how you give back to the community. Not only is this good karma, it’s also good business. As many as 70% of consumers want to know what the companies they support do to give back.
You can donate a portion of your sales, allow shoppers to make donations, or offer a space for a nonprofit organization to promote its cause. You can also donate products to a service-oriented Small Business Saturday event.
15. Engage With Customers After the Fact
Don’t forget to follow up with your customers after Small Business Saturday. Send thank-you emails to express your gratitude and collect feedback. This continued engagement can help build lasting relationships with your clientele—and keep you top of mind throughout the entire holiday shopping season.
Creative Event Ideas
One way to help your business stand out on Small Business Saturday is to host an event. Engage customers with contests, sampling events, and festivities—you can even host your grand opening.
16. Host a Contest or Giveaway
Generate excitement for Small Business Saturday by running a contest or giveaway, either before or during the event. Encourage customers to participate for a chance to win prizes, creating engagement and anticipation. Consider running a social media contest leading up to Small Business Saturday, encouraging customers to participate for a chance to win prizes.
17. Sample Your Products
Provide samples of your products to entice customers and showcase the quality of your offerings. Hosting sampling events can be an effective way to engage shoppers and encourage them to make purchases.
This is exactly the approach Frannie’s Market took with its Small Business Saturday sale. The specialty grocery store gave shoppers free samples of its products to add to the festive vibe and encourage them to make a purchase.
18. Serve Refreshments
Even if you don’t sell food or drink, you can serve them on Small Business Saturday (as long as you’re compliant with local regulations—check with your municipality). Tosa Bike Garage, for example, served hot cocoa, coffee, and mimosas and invited guests to snack from a doughnut wall to drive foot traffic and sales.
Don’t forget, however, that you will likely have to obtain a liquor license if you want to serve alcoholic beverages. This can take time (and money) so start now and be sure the hoops are worth jumping through.
19. Play Music
Add a festive vibe to your Small Business Saturday event by featuring live music or a DJ. Music can enhance the overall ambiance and create an enjoyable shopping environment—as well as encourage shoppers to hang out longer, and hopefully spend more money. The Blackity Black Holiday Market had a curated playlist from local Milwaukee DJs for its Small Business Saturday event.
20. Offer Something for Kids
Attract families by providing activities for children. Just Kiln’ Time, a pottery shop, hosted a “Paint Your Own Pottery” promotion on Small Business Saturday. For $35, parents could drop their kids off at the shop to attend a painting workshop—complete with milk and cookies—so they could do their shopping independently.
21. Host Your Grand Opening
Getting ready to start a new retail business? Consider coordinating your grand opening with Small Business Saturday. That’s exactly what Comma, a bookshop did in 2022. The Minneapolis-based small business took advantage of the buzz around Small Business Saturday to raise awareness about its new shop and capture first-time customers.
22. Have a Tree Lighting
Tree lighting events are common during the holiday shopping season. You can create memorable experiences with your own. These events can bring families together, foster a sense of community, and create lasting memories. The Buchanan Community Christmas Market, for example, will host a tree lighting at the end of its Small Business Saturday promo this year.
Benefits of Participating in Small Business Saturday
Participating in Small Business Saturday offers several advantages for local businesses, such as boosting sales, interacting with your community, and promoting your brand and partners:
Small Business Saturday can lead to a significant boost in sales as customers actively seek out local businesses for their shopping needs. Small Business Saturday shoppers spent approximately $17.9 billion in 2022.
In fact, 59% of holiday shoppers planned to shop on Small Business Saturday in 2022—more than Black Friday (56%). And 65% of holiday shoppers plan to buy from small businesses. So there’s a huge opportunity for SMBs and their Small Business Saturday sale ideas.
Small Business Saturday offers lots of opportunities to have additional interactions with your audience—your community. You connect with your community, build relationships with customers, and show your appreciation for their support.
This is especially the case for in-person retail. A survey by Bankrate in 2022 found that around one-third of shoppers planned to do their Small Business Saturday shopping in person.
Participating in Small Business Saturday can improve your brand’s visibility, both locally and online. Other than using event-related hashtags on your social posts to reach potential shoppers, many customers also share Small Business Saturday posts on social media, especially if there’s an interesting event or promotion associated with the day.
Many local organizations and chambers of commerce actively promote Small Business Saturday, providing additional exposure and resources for your business. In some cases, they even organize and promote the event—so you don’t have to worry about doing it all yourself.
Small Business Saturday Ideas Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click through the questions below to get answers to some of your most commonly asked Small Business Saturday questions.
On Small Business Saturday, post engaging content that promotes your event, highlights the promotions and product offerings, and showcases the unique shopping experience you provide. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses, customer testimonials, and user-generated content to create excitement.
Shopping local on Small Business Saturday supports your community by keeping money within the local economy. It also fosters a sense of community and encourages unique, personalized shopping experiences.
Small businesses are good at providing personalized customer service, offering unique and niche products, and building strong connections with their local communities.
Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for small brick-and-mortar businesses. By implementing these creative and low-budget Small Business Saturday ideas, you can make the most of this special day, attract new customers, and strengthen your relationship with your community. With careful planning and execution, Small Business Saturday 2023 could be your most successful one yet.