Like its counterpart Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is an import from the United States, where the concept was established by American Express in 2010. However, where Black Friday tends to be dominated by the big retail chains, Small Business Saturday is all about highlighting small business success and encouraging consumers to ‘shop local’.
It seems to be working, and grassroots support for Small Business Saturday is strong. This year saw over 100,000 mentions of the #SmallBizSatUK Twitter hashtag, and three quarters of UK local authorities running their own events and activities to support the day, such as by offering free town centre parking.
Sadly, however, Saturday wasn’t such a happy day for many small businesses on the other side of the Pennines, where the onset of Storm Desmond flooded streets, homes and shops in Cumbrian towns such as Keswick, Cockermouth and Appleby-in-Westmorland.
What has been remarkable, though, is the Cumbrian spirit and resilience, as residents and businesses have worked together to clear up the mess and support each other. Local shopkeepers have displayed a steely determination to get back on their feet and reopen their doors.
Indeed, the message emerging loud and clear is that ‘Cumbria is Open’, with many businesses on social media sharing an image that encourages people to ‘visit, shop, donate and love’. Meanwhile, the #cumbriaisopen Twitter hashtag is being widely used to highlight the many businesses and attractions that are open for business as usual. Events like the Taste Festival in Cockermouth, scheduled for this weekend, are going ahead as planned.
An easy and popular day trip for many of us here in the North East, the hope is that rather than being put off visiting Cumbria this December, people will want to show their support more than ever.
Small Business Saturday may be over for another year, but it’s clear that by spending our money locally – whether that’s on our own North East high streets, or with our Cumbrian friends – we can help fellow businesses enjoy a Merrier Christmas than might otherwise be the case.
Written by Graham Soult