Essential Avenue hopes Saturday's gross sales will assist small companies keep afloat

A number of shops along the Munjoy Hill base had open signs and were operational as part of a small business as of Saturday November 28, 2015.

Gift Souza | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images

With the Christmas shopping going on this weekend, it is uncertain how Small Business Saturday November 28th will move the needle and help the millions of Main Street business owners struggling to survive. According to a survey on Small Business Saturday conducted by SurveyMonkey and CNBC, 43% of shoppers plan to spend less this holiday season than they did in 2019, and only 6% plan to spend the most money on Small Business Saturday.

The national study, published on Friday November 16-18, interviewed 3,122 people aged 18 to over 65. The survey was conducted on the SurveyMonkey online platform and was based on the survey method.

This could be a premonition for small business owners who are counting on Christmas sales to make up for declining revenues. Many are on the verge of bankruptcy due to the coronavirus pandemic that has brought normal business operations down. More standstills could soon occur if Covid-19 infections increase in the US.

"It could be devastating to small businesses relying on this blockbuster sales event," said Laura Wronski, a SurveyMonkey researcher who worked on the CNBC survey.

According to data from CNBC | SurveyMonkey plans a significant percentage of Americans to spend less on Christmas gifts this year than they did in 2019.

About three in four (75%) small business owners said they needed vacation spending to get back to normal in order to stay in business in 2021, and nearly half (46%) said they needed above-average spending Express, according to Americans Shop Small Impact Study.

The economic impact of this sales event is significant. Small businesses benefit from higher sales during the busy holiday season, which in turn benefits the communities in which they are located. According to American Express, 67 cents of every dollar spent in a small business – be it a retail store, restaurant, or something else – stays in the community.

It is estimated that 110 million people attended Small Business Saturday last year, and American Express posted a record $ 19.6 billion in revenue that helped make Small Business Saturday in response to the Great Recession to accomplish.

While customers may be throttling their spending in 2020, the CNBC / SurveyMonkey survey found that 30% of customers plan to patronize a small business for small business on Saturday. That is 9% less than in the previous year.

Surprisingly, 39% of all activities are done in person, 25% online, and 34% both. One percent of respondents did not answer the question, according to the survey. These numbers differ significantly from last year, when 8% planned to shop online, 58% in person, and 33% both.

Strategies in the Covid Economy

Given the many challenges small business owners face, experts share tips on how to increase sales on this important shopping day.

Most agree that the best strategies include: increasing the company's online sales presence; Implementation of contactless transactions; Introduction of local delivery; Create customer gift lists as well as set up a number of new security protocols in stores.

"The most important thing small businesses need to do to increase sales on Small Business Saturday is prioritizing health and safety for their customers," said Nick Satari, CSO of NMI, the payments platform that powers 140,000 merchants and behind the backdrops used is Payment Activation for Apple Pay and Google Pay. "No. 2 is the introduction of contactless payment systems," he added.

"Our customer surveys show that this is what consumers are looking for. They want to feel more secure in small store environments. Many believe that wholesalers have more safety and health protocols than small businesses. Entrepreneurs need to change that perception."

As he explains, there are simple things business owners can do like have hand sanitizer at the checkout, use floor markings for social distancing, have employees wear facial tags, and disinfect checkout systems between customers that go a long way in increasing consumer confidence.

Gary Huether Jr., an entrepreneur in the restaurant business – an industry hard hit by the pandemic – has taken many steps to prepare for Small Business Saturday in hopes of a boost in sales.

"We have had some of the toughest constraints in any industry since the coronavirus crisis began and we hope our customers will join us this weekend with indoor or takeaway dining," said Huether, president and co-founder of Aroogas Grille House & Sports Bar, franchisor from 18 locations in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Gary Huether Jr., President and CEO of Aroogas Grille House & Sports Bar, hopes Saturday's sales will drive sales for small businesses.

To attract businesses to the shopping vacation, the company built direct deliveries on its website so guests can use Agrooga's loyalty and gift cards for their purchases. A mobile app for take-away and direct deliveries was also introduced, which enables contactless payment.

"We've been in a whirlwind, facing different restrictions that vary from state to state. Some of our store sales have decreased by 20% to 30%," he said, noting that the company had sales of over the past year Raised $ 40 million. "We hope that our loyal customers will use Small Business Saturday to help small businesses, not big retailers."

Andy Shalal, CEO and founder of Busboys and Poets, a group of restaurants, cultural centers, and bookstores in the greater DC area, hopes the support of the Main Street community this season will help. He keeps seeing customers come back to take away and book deliveries.

"Small businesses drive the mood in communities across America. People are realizing how important they are to the local economy."

Firms like Shopify and Facebook are aware of their valuable contributions and are looking to help small businesses this weekend and throughout the holiday shopping season.

Shopify announced the #GiftBetter Guide, a one-stop shop that selects over 150 hand-picked gifts from curators like artist and floral designer Maurice Harris. Pro skater and entrepreneur Michelle Steilen; world famous chef Matty Matheson; and actress and founder, Ally Maki, to name a few.

Realizing that the black community was particularly hard hit, she also launched the Black Business Directory, which shoppers can use to discover and shop from Black Shopify merchants. Facebook took a similar approach with its #BuyBlack Friday program. Encouraging people to support and shop from black-owned businesses during the holidays and beyond.

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