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Carroll Business Path: Gear up for Small Business Saturday

Put down the turkey and gather the newspaper -- Black Friday, the unofficial U.S. national holiday, is upon us.
Yes, it's that time of year when big box retailers start slashing prices and leaking sales promotions in hopes of capturing consumers' dollars, and it's working. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2012 Black Friday sales hit an all-time high of $59.1 billion, an increase of over 13 percent from 2011. In addition, 2012 Cyber Monday sales increased by 17 percent to $1.5 billion.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the bookends of this shopping frenzy weekend and right in the middle is Small Business Saturday. SBS was first observed in 2010 and is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. SBS encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.
In 2011, American Express started working to develop marketing materials and campaigns to help support the cause. Like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the marketing efforts are working, with SBS efforts reporting $5.5 billion in sales for 2012.
If you're a small business owner, consumers are ready to embrace the shop local movement and here's the proof: Ogilvy & Mather, one of the world's largest advertising firms, conducted a post-recession survey asking consumers how their buying behaviors have changed as a result of the recession. Here are some of results:

  • 69 percent have rethought priorities and values.
  • 78 percent have changed spending habits "for the better."
  • 73 percent want fewer, but higher-quality things.
  • 35 percent are willing to pay more.

If you are a small business retail owner, consider joining this movement.

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American Express has done a great job of marketing the effort and has useful tools for small business owners. Visit

for more information.

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Social media is key. As mentioned, this is a movement, and one of the best ways to form a movement is through social media;

is a great place to start.

Be a small business advocate. Each small community needs a person who can support the small business community and create synergy amongst the local shops. Most often these are your Main Street managers or event town planners, but in my opinion the best person for the job is a local small business owner.

Remain competitive through technology. Did you know that in the 2012 holiday shopping season, more than 24 percent of all consumers used mobile devices as a way to visit retailers' websites? The is an increase of more than 16 percent from last year. Yes, technology upgrades are expensive, but not having the tools to effectively market to your consumers can be costly. Consider reaching out to the Carroll County Technology Council for assistance and information pertaining to technology upgrades.

Small Business Saturday is just around the corner, Nov. 30, and customers are ready to spend their money. Are you ready to collect it?

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