Black Friday started its less-than-subtle expansion by creeping forward hour by hour into Thanksgiving, until one could rush through a Thanksgiving lunch to go line up for pre-Christmas deals.
While there was pushback from some against cutting into the national holiday, that didn’t mean people objected to expanding access to sales. Some ostensibly “Black Friday” sales start days or weeks before anyone roasts a turkey.
Financial consulting and accounting company Deloitte puts expected sales for Black Friday shoppers at about $500 each. Score a good door-buster deal on a 70-inch flat screen or track down the hard-to-locate PlayStation 5, and that could go higher. In 2021, the total hit $33.9 billion, down 1.4% from 2020.
That’s a lot of money. It’s a considerable chunk of the holiday spending that dominates the fourth quarter for retail.
But it’s not the only retail spending. While Black Friday spreads its tendrils toward October in person and online, including what has become known as Cyber Monday, there is one day on which the math is a little different. The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday.
There are 32.5 million small businesses in the U.S., making up more than 99% of all businesses. According to American Express, which started and pushes Small Business Saturday in an effort to support the non-big box shops, about $23.3 billion was spent at small businesses in 2021.
Is that as much as Black Friday? Not at all. But there’s an argument for it being more impressive.
First, Small Business Saturday is just the one day, not a spreading target. Then there’s the fact they are the stores without multimillion dollar advertising campaigns. The ones where no one lines up outside, the ones where no one is getting trampled to score this year’s equivalent of the Tickle Me Elmo.
And that shows how much people value the shops where the product is unique.
Maybe it’s a used bookstore with a hands-on charm that Amazon can’t replicate. Maybe it’s the Main Street jewelry store where the owners know your wife’s birthstone and put aside something for you that’s perfect for her. Maybe it’s that candy store with one-of-a-kind fudge.
There is a time and place for the national chains and the online options. The economy depends on a bouquet of different business opportunities. But if they are the muscle that does the heavy lifting of the holiday season, small businesses are the skeleton that supports not only the economy but also their communities.
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