While the retail industry online is going from strength-to-strength, hoovering up increasingly more of the market share and drawing even more consumers away from the high street – especially at this time of the year with Christmas so close by – independent retailers have struggled to carve out a lasting space for themselves in recent years.
Far more convenient, and often cheaper, to simply click through our purchases via the web than venture out in person, it has been difficult to see how indie shops would be able to force their way back in to mainstream consideration – but that’s exactly why Small Business Saturday was introduced.
What Is Small Business Saturday?
Held on the first Saturday of December each year, Small Business Saturday was introduced to give prominence to the UK’s 5.6 million small businesses. Similar in intention to the now wildly successful and increasingly popular Independent Record Store Day – which takes place in both the UK and United States – there is not only increased focus on physically going in to stores, but using independent online outlets and businesses, with some hosting events on the day to further increase interest.
An entirely grassroots and non-commercial campaign, the focus is on local independent businesses, with community at the heart of what they do. A success already, it is estimated that £748 million was spent as a result of the day being held in 2017, which would represent an incredible boost to many local economies as a result. Something that will surely grow year-on-year as awareness improves organically, it’s undeniably a positive event that the sector required – because even with small business loans available, there is no real replacement for profit.
Are We Using Independent Retailers More?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a straight yes or no answer. While it’s true that the use of independent stores is on the rise – although not seismically – it’s also true that the market share of online retailers is also growing, too. Essentially, the worst affected now tend to be chain stores on the high street, as they do not benefit from the footfall they once did, and do not offer the deals online to compete with the likes of Amazon and Asos, who’ve made their mark by undercutting the high street and promoting convenience and variety of stock over a complete retail experience. While this is good for independent business in a micro sense, the bigger picture still shows less people leaving the house to shop, which isn’t within their long term interests.
Nicole Hicks a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto but travels much of the year. Nicole has written for NPR, Motherboard, MSN Money, and the Huffington Post. Nicole is a financial reporter, focusing on technology, national security, and policing.