PENNSYLVANIA — Small Business Saturday, the day to boost the local economy in light of capitalism’s most widespread consumer holiday, is taking on paramount importance in Pennsylvania.
About a million small businesses call Keystone State home, and it accounts for more than 99 percent of the state’s business economy, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). Many are struggling to survive while inflation ravages the economy.
“Keep your money local this holiday season and support a dream,” the department said on social media over the weekend. “Local support strengthens your communities.”
Proponents say the tag empowers shoppers to directly support business owners and employees they know personally, while putting money into the economy they live in and personally interact with every day. Shopping local can also be a way to limit the massive carbon emissions from shipping giants like Amazon, which make a huge contribution to climate change.
Numerous small businesses throughout Pennsylvania are hosting specials and offers to celebrate the event. Find participating stores near you in Pennsylvania online with this tool.
Pennsylvania officials say the state has unique characteristics that make it ideal for small business success.
“There’s a multitude of factors, but it’s largely a combination of our welcoming communities, thriving high streets, state support and support, robust college programs — and of course, a huge dose of Pennsylvania pride,” DCED said of the weekend.
Small Business Saturday falls between two of the biggest global capitalism mega-holidays of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
For many small businesses without the scale of established national chains to navigate the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, fourth-quarter sales could mean the difference between staying in business or closing.
Last year, small business Saturday sales exceeded $23 billion. Since the inaugural Small Business Saturday in 2010, consumers have spent an estimated $163 billion, according to American Express, the event’s longtime sponsor.
By most estimates, two-thirds of every dollar spent in a local business stays in the community. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, there’s something more to what’s called the “local multiplier effect.”
A study by this group found that an average of 48 percent of every purchase from a local independent business is recycled locally, compared to less than 14 percent of chain store purchases.
Small businesses are typically defined by the federal government as companies with 500 to 1,500 employees, depending on the industry. They have been responsible for two out of every three jobs over the past 25 years, according to the Department of Labor. Even a partial collapse of small businesses could weaken the US economy as a whole.
According to a new survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Teneo on behalf of Kabbage by American Express, nearly four in five (79 percent) said small business is essential in their communities.
The past few years have been tough as business owners twisted their business models to deal with the pandemic, but many are now wondering if they can continue.
Almost a quarter (24 percent) of businesses surveyed in the Kabbage by American Express survey said holiday sales volume will determine their survival into 2023.
Another measure of concern among traders: Members of the National Federation of Independent Business posted their lowest-ever economic expectations in a June poll.
Small businesses are adopting new strategies from inventory management to investing in marketing and payments tools, but are also increasingly relying on credit, according to American Express’ Kabbage survey.
About 21 percent of small business owners were planning to take out a small business loan this holiday season. Nearly a third (32 percent) planned to use the loan to cover expenses to support their business, from inventory bills to common cash outages.
Americans generally seem to understand just how high the stakes are for independent companies this year. More than half of the 2022 holiday shoppers surveyed (53 percent) said they plan to shop or dine at an independent business or restaurant this year. That’s up from 42 percent of shoppers over the past year.