CHRISTMAS is a notoriously expensive time of the year so, this year, American Express decided to lend a helping hand in the hope that small businesses would get their fair share of profits.
Last year it was estimated that, on average, consumers spent £445 on the big day with children receiving an average of £132 worth of presents. The majority of this sum is spent in chain giants like Next, Marks & Spencer’s and John Lewis and small, local business’ are often ignored during the festive period.
In 2010 the US held the first ‘Small Business Saturday’ and, on December, 7, the UK joined in and participated in a day that’s boosted US small business economy by £3.5 billion. Backed by American Express and held on the busiest shopping day of the year, the scheme looked set to be a success.
With its Twitter page generating over 9,500 followers, even the Prime Minister’s official twitter channel tweeted ‘small businesses are the lifeblood of our country – I’m backing @smallBizSatUK and hope others do to.’
Advertising began on November, 11, with TV and radio adverts calling for people to “support the heroes of our high street” and “think big, shop small.”
One of Chester’s many small business owners, Malcolm Lamb said: “Anyone who watches TV or listens to Smooth radio will have heard about it.” Despite this, Mr Lamb said the event didn’t go well for him or other traders, he added: “I had posters up and everything but not one customer had an American Express card. It was very disappointing.”
Many other traders were unaware of the entire scheme. Jon Clements, owner of ‘The Rather Tasty Tea People’ said: “I own three small businesses and didn’t even know this was going on until someone else mentioned it.” He said that Saturday tends to be the busiest day of the week anyway but claimed he’d had about four more customers on the 7th as he’d had the weekend before. Mr Clements added: “Do I think it was a big money making success? No, not at all.”
Local MP and Small Business Ambassador, Stephen Mosley was heavily involved in the campaign. He states on his webpage that over 400 small local business took part and that said: “I am delighted with what we were able to achieve.”
A spokesperson for Mr Mosley stated: “Obviously this was our first year so our main aim was to get people into small local shops. We have had lots of positive feedback but plan on doing the event again next year so will take any criticism on board.”