As many New Jersey merchants ready themselves for this year’s Small Business Saturday, Nov. 24, Al Titone, New Jersey district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) wants to make sure people around the state get out and support local small businesses by shopping small in their neighborhoods.
“This Saturday is typically one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year and can make or break a small business,” said Titone. “Small Business Saturday® is an opportunity for all of us to get behind neighborhood businesses by supporting them. When someone spends $100 at a local small business retailer, $48 is recirculated in our local economy. But if that same $100 is spent at a large big box business, only $14 is recirculated in our local economy.”
Started by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday®, which is sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, continues to provide small business owners across the country with a big economic boost during the holiday shopping season. Last year, 108 million consumers went out to shop small and spent a total of $12 billion in local shops and restaurants across America.
And according to Titone, this year promises to be even better. “Based on a recent survey from the National Federation of Retailers consumers will spend 4.1 percent more than last year during this holiday shopping season,” said Titone. “Deloitte’s annual holiday economic forecast also projects total retail sales will increase 5 –5.6 percent during the 2018 holiday season.”
“It’s welcome news for the 71,325 New Jersey small retailers who employ 160,000 workers, which accounts for 35 percent of retail employment throughout the state,” said Titone “Of those 71,000 retailers in the state, 1,693 retailer have between1-499 employees, with 20,241 retailers employing between 1-20 employees and another 49,391 retailers who are sole proprietors with no employees.”
In addition to retailers, Titone also noted that there are 18,337 eating and drinking establishments in New Jersey. They employ nearly 350,000 workers; make up 8 percent of employment in the state and account for $16.3 billion in sales. “Restaurants are equally important to New Jersey’s economy and we want to emphasize that small restaurants also depend on local holiday shoppers to stop by for lunch or dinner after a full-day of shopping,” said Titone.
“Many successful retailers and restaurateurs are masters at creating the ultimate Customer Experience (CX) for their clientele,” added Titone. “Those who consistently win over their customers with exceptional service and quality products and services know that it is that great shopping or dining experience that keeps them coming back,” added Titone. “Ultimately, your customers are your brand ambassadors. It’s their influence that can drive more customers through the door; the better the experience the more likely small retailers will see an increase in their sales.”
“For today’s retailers there has to be a balance of the old mixed in with the new,” said Titone. “A big allure for any customer is walking down Main Street and seeing an inviting window display. However, retailers also have to make it easier for their customers and adapt to their needs. Expanding the digital footprint is a great place to start. Choosing a social media network that works best for your small business and then incorporating video (live streaming), photography and interactive content could drive more customers to your store.”
According to the Invesp Blog, 31 billion eCoupons will be redeemed worldwide in 2019, up from 16 billion in 2014 and there will be 1.05 billion mobile coupon users worldwide by 2019, up from 560 million in 2014. “These are the type of trends small retailers have to follow,” said Titone. “If a retailer is able to develop an app for their store that allows customers to receive digital coupons or if they can configure their website for mobile phone browsing, they are taking the necessary steps to meet the needs and demands of their customers. You simply have to keep up with the trends in order to compete or you get left behind.”
To help small business owners prepare for Small Business Saturday® and the holiday season, the SBA also has a dedicated web page www.sba.gov/saturday that offers tips on how to increase business during the holiday shopping season. Remember to tell the SBA about your Small Business Saturday experience on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SBAgov, on Twitter @SBAgov or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/SBAGov/ , by using the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat
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