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10 Numbers That Show Why Small Business Saturday Is Important

By Jeffrey Pelletier - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:03AM

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Small businesses create local jobs, provide access to valuable goods and services, and act as economic multipliers because the money spent at a small business tends to stay in the community. Small Business Saturday should continue to grow beyond a simple date on the calendar and into a state of mind for consumers.

Small Business Saturday has successfully come and gone once again. In its fourth installment, this promotional day created by American Express ( AXP -0.53% ) shined a light on the small businesses that make up many of our communities, but struggle to compete for holiday sales against the major retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, Small Business Saturday helped drive $5.5 billion in sales to independent merchants across the United States.

American Express and its partners, such as Twitter ( TWTR -1.36% ) and the United States Postal Service, worked to make Small Business Saturday 2013 an even bigger success. They built an interactive neighborhood map for customers to find local businesses where they could shop, dine, or catch a show. They created a tool-kit to help small business owners effectively reach their target customer base, and market their services to new audiences. American Express also continued to build the Small Business Saturday brand, through an active Facebook page with 3.3 million likes, and with trending tweets promoting the hashtags #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall.

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to help small businesses that were reeling from the lingering effects of the Great Recession, and struggling to compete with major retailers during the competitive holiday shopping season. Small Business Saturday has also been used to improve the company's standing with independent retailers, many of whom have long complained about higher processing fees from American Express compared to Visa or MasterCard.


Even President Obama took his daughters out for Small Business Saturday, buying a few books at a local Washington, DC shop.

We all have our favorite local small businesses. In my hometown of New Bedford, Mass., I could not imagine getting a haircut anywhere except Buzi Salon in the downtown. When looking for a few hours of fun with the whole family, I know there is no better place to go than the Ocean Explorium, with their selection of fish tanks, shark touch tanks, and marine science exhibits. Small businesses like these help define the very makeup and experiences available in our communities.

Small Business Saturday should be every Saturday

Here are 10 numbers from the Small Business Administration that show why:

1. 23 Million – the number of small businesses in the United States

2. 54% – the percentage of U.S. sales generated by small businesses

3. 49.2% – the percentage of private sector employment made up by small business

4. 66% – the percentage of net new jobs created in America by small businesses since the 1970s

5. 33% – the percentage of our national export value made up by small businesses

6. 30%-50% – the percentage of the commercial space in America that is occupied by small businesses, representing between 20 billion and 34 billion square feet

7. 99.7% – the percentage of U.S. employer firms made up of small businesses

8. 49% – the percentage that small businesses have increased in the United States since 1982

9. 4 million – the number of jobs large businesses have eliminated since 1990

10. 8 million – the number of jobs small businesses have created since 1990

Small Business Saturday has been a great success for independent merchants, and American Express and its partners should be congratulated for their efforts. Small businesses are the backbone of our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. They create local jobs, provide access to valuable goods and services, and act as economic multipliers because the money that is spent at a small business tends to stay in the community.

Small businesses benefit all of us, and keep our national economy diversified. Small Business Saturday should continue to grow beyond a simple date on the calendar, and into a state of mind for consumers. As you work your way down your holiday shopping list this season, remember to #ShopSmall.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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