Small Business

Main Street could see smaller crowds this Small Business Saturday, survey shows

Portrait of small business owner

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American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to try to encourage shoppers to support local retailers, but a new CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey shows waning enthusiasm for the day.

The survey, conducted Nov. 20–22, surveyed 2,397 Americans nationwide across all age demographics.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents surveyed say they plan to patronize a small business tomorrow. That’s down from 44% a year ago. Of those who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, 58% will do their shopping in person, while a third will do a mix of online and in-person shopping. Eight percent will patronize small businesses online only.

Small Business Saturday sales hit a record of $17.8 billion in 2018, according to American Express. About $3 billion of that was spent online, according to Adobe Analytics. This year Adobe expects that number to grow by about 20%.

Black Friday remains the clear winner among the early season shopping days. Nineteen percent of Americans say they are most excited to go shopping today, compared to 8% most excited about Small Business Saturday, and 12% most excited about Cyber Monday. Compared to last year, excitement for Black Friday is up slightly, while excitement about the other days declined.

Despite the billions of dollars in sales that retailers are expected to take in over the long weekend and through Cyber Monday, nearly half of Americans will sit it out entirely. Retail analysts have suggested that earlier promotions, including Walmart’s holiday kickoff in late October and Amazon’s Prime Day in July, has displaced some of this weekend’s sales.

According to the survey, 49% of Americans don’t plan to go shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, and 59% say they aren’t excited about any of the big shopping days. Both of those numbers are higher than they were a year ago.

Overall, the survey suggests holiday spending will hold steady compared to 2018. Fifteen percent of Americans say they plan to spend more than they did last year, 27% plan to spend less, and 56% will spend about the same. The National Retail Federation predicts year-over-year sales growth of between 3.8 and 4.2% for the entire holiday shopping season, with total sales as high as $730.7 billion.

Respondents for this CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.

Click here to see the full results of the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

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