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Small Business Saturday draws more shoppers; per-person spending down

Delores and Walter Henning, of Bay Shore shopping

Delores and Walter Henning, of Bay Shore shopping in the fourth annual Small Business Saturday. Credit: Steve Pfost

Independent businesses across the United States experienced an uptick in shopper traffic this past Small Business Saturday, helping to offset lower overall consumer spending.

About 88 million consumers chose to shop small on Saturday, an increase of 14.9 percent from just a year ago, according to the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.

U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday reported spending $14.3 billion with independent retailers and restaurants, an increase of 2.1 percent from $14 billion in 2013. The average person who shopped on Saturday spent $162, down 11.5 percent from last year, according to NFIB and American Express.

"Once again, Small Business Saturday proved to be a bright spot over the first official holiday shopping weekend," Denise Pickett, president of American Express OPEN, a unit of the company focused on small business, said in a statement.

Small Business Saturday, the symbolic start of the holiday shopping season for independent businesses, has been held every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving since it was created in 2010 by American Express.

"Shop Small Business Saturday keeps the local people in town for that weekend," said Mark Tannenbaum, executive vice president of the Long Beach Chamber Of Commerce, adding the chamber ran its own commercials on television and newspapers to promote the day. "There was a good flow of business. Most of my merchants would say people were spending less and watching what they are buying. What has become a problem even for the big stores is the Internet."

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