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Small Business Saturday Comes To The UK

With just under a month to go until the inaugural Small Business Saturday UK, Michelle Ovens a leading force behind the campaign, explains the thinking behind bringing the event to the UK and how businesses can get involved.

The Small Business Saturday campaign has been building in the UK for the last 6 months and is now only a few weeks away from its launch. For those of you who have not heard, Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots campaign encouraging people to support small businesses and “shop local” on December 7th and beyond. The initiative started in the US nearly 4 years ago, initially as an American Express marketing campaign, and has grown exponentially, last year generating a whopping $5.5 (£3.5) billion in sales to small businesses, and led to an increase in long term custom. Now it has been taken on by the Small Business Administration in the US and is going from strength to strength.

In the UK, SMEs provide almost two thirds of private sector employment and almost half of private sector turnover, yet they don’t get the recognition they deserve. This campaign is the perfect opportunity to provide them with that recognition, and get consumers to start shifting their focus onto the small businesses that make their local high street. The campaign supports all small businesses – not just retail (unlike the US, which is largely retail focused). We are looking for as many ways possible to celebrate small businesses in all areas – support, supply chain, manufacturing, marketing, online. The idea was first pitched by Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Chuka Umunna MP in January, and now has the support of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Department for BIS, dragon and entrepreneur James Caan, as well as the Forum for Private Business, the Federation of Small Business, the Institute of Directors and many Local Authorities and Councils.

There are many ways businesses can get involved, whether they are B2B or B2C. For B2B, there are lots of ideas around the country: small business networking events, promotions in the week running up to the 7th December, entrepreneur fairs and lots of local councils highlighting how they use small businesses in their supply chain. For B2C, there are literally hundreds of ideas: free gift on the day, raffles, Christmas markets, free Christmas wrapping, local bands. We are really excited about the local authority support we are generating, in particular the local authorities offering free parking for Small Business Saturday – this is so important to allow consumers easy access to independent retailers on the day and encourage increased footfall. The Forum for Private Business have taken a key role in encouraging local councils to offer free parking on the day – we are really excited to see how local councils respond on the day!

There are endless possibilities for all involved, businesses, consumers, and authorities! Here’s to a new era of the ‘shop local’ mentality…
Much of the campaign is taking place on Facebook, so ‘like’ us (www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturdayUK) for more information, and follow us on Twitter (@SmallBizSatUK) and use #SmallBizSatUK to get involved!

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