By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking
The countdown has started to the UK’s first Small Business Saturday on December 7th with independent companies in communities around the country preparing to be in the national spotlight.
A nationwide bus tour, which has travelled around the UK to Glasgow, Belfast, Plymouth, Ipswich and six other cities, will conclude in London on Friday December 6th ahead of the day itself with businesses throughout the country planning special offers and activities to promote themselves on the day.
Championed in the UK by Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, and supported by the Prime Minister, the Business Secretary Vince Cable and the Minister for Skills Matthew Hancock, this non-political campaign highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses.
The campaign is already an exceptional example of collaboration and cooperation with over a third of all local authorities committing support, across all political parties; many local authorities are even suspending parking charges on the day.
The Small Business Saturday UK initiative has attracted the support of leading business organisations including the Association of City and Town Management, Federation of Small Businesses, Association of Convenience Stores, Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association and Ingenious Britain, as well as corporates like American Express, O2, Make It Cheaper and prominent entrepreneurs James Caan, Piers Linney, Martha Lane Fox and ‘Made In Chelsea’ star and small business owner Oliver Proudlock. However it is an entirely un-commercial venture with no sponsors, partners or donors and with absolutely zero budget the whole campaign is being delivered by volunteers and by organisations such as Ingenious Britain giving their time and expertise for free. Even HMRC is providing free webinars for small businesses on the day.
Other supporters include Groupon UK, whose managing director, Roy Blanga, says:
“Championing small businesses is at the heart of what we do so we’re delighted to support Small Business Saturday. It’s a great way to raise awareness of independent businesses across the country and encourage people to shop locally. Our research suggests that 71% of shoppers want to see more independent businesses on their high street. I think there’s a huge opportunity for SMEs to make themselves stand out by having both an offline and online presence to deliver better value and customer service. To help save Britain’s high streets and ensure local independent businesses thrive, it’s critical for SMEs, big brands and the government to support initiatives like this.”
Enterprise and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock comments:
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy and Small Business Saturday is a chance for everyone, including the government, to get behind our small firms. It's an idea that has taken off in America and is getting great support here too.
“With just a few days to go until Small Business Saturday - our national day for small businesses - I encourage everyone to go out next week and show their support for the small businesses in their community working hard to rebuild local economies."
American Express founded the hugely successful ‘Small Business Saturday’ initiative in the U.S. in 2010 and is an active supporter of the programme in the UK, as part of its on-going commitment to encourage consumers to shop small. More information on Small Business Saturday, participating retailers and details on promotions and other incentives to ‘shop locally’ can be found on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page (www.facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturdayuk) Twitter page (@SmallBizSatUk) and website (www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com).