Holiday shopping on Small Business Saturday has returned, and it may have altered forever

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Small Business

According to a new CNBC|Momentive Small Business Survey, over one-third of Americans (34%) plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, a resurgence from 2020, although spending during the holiday promotional day has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.


30% of Americans stated they would shop at a small business on Small Business Saturday in 2020. Support for local companies was higher, if dropping, prior to the pandemic: 44 percent in 2018 and 39 percent in 2019.

"Of course, customers still adore Small Business Saturday," Laura Wronski, senior manager of research science at Momentive, noted in an email, "but it doesn't have the same hype that we might have seen in prior years." "On Small Business Saturday, few individuals say they're most thrilled to go shopping, and even fewer say they plan to spend the most money."

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A national sample of 2,744 persons was surveyed from November 10 to November 12, 2021.


More than half of those polled by CNBC|Momentive said they aren't looking forward to shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, down from 65 percent in 2020 but similar to pre-pandemic levels in 2018 (58 percent) and 2019 (59 percent) (59 percent ). Small Business Saturday inspires the least enthusiasm, with only 8% of respondents indicating they are looking forward to it, and only 7% of Americans planning to spend the most on the day.


For small businesses, the holiday season may be crucial. According to a recent survey conducted by American Express, the company behind Small Business Saturday, 78 percent of small business owners believe that Christmas sales in 2021 will determine if their firms survive into the following year. According to Amex data from last year, buyers spent about $20 billion on Small Business Saturday at local businesses and restaurants, which is similar to the level of spending in 2019.


In a year during which supply chain issues and rising prices have become key economic concerns, the effect is being felt in the holiday season behavior tracked by the CNBC|Momentive survey. It finds 72% of Americans saying they’ve experienced price increases in the past three months, as well as low inventory notices (62%), staff shortages at local businesses (55%), and shipping delays (51%).

Wronski noted that in other recent polling conducted by Momentive, it found nearly four in 10 people in the U.S. were planning to start their holiday shopping in October, and that those who were the most worried about supply chain issues were the ones planning to get an earlier start on holiday shopping.

“There’s no doubt that both supply chain shocks and fears of inflation have disrupted consumers’ typical holiday shopping patterns,” Wronski wrote.

These fears are high among small business patrons specifically, with Americans who plan to spend on Small Business Saturday more concerned about the supply chain (48%) than Americans who don’t plan to shop on Saturday (42%).

Small business shoppers are buying online more than in the past, but making purchases online is correlated with an even higher level of supply chain concerns: 60% of Small Business Saturday shoppers who plan to make online purchases say they’re worried about getting the items the want.

“A lot of consumers have intentionally gotten an early start on their holiday shopping because they don’t want to be left empty handed at the holidays! It’s one thing to wait a few months for a new couch to be delivered; it’s another to try to explain to your kids why Santa isn’t coming until January,” Wronski wrote.

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