Small Business Saturday 2018 Spending Sets Record High of $17.8 Billion

Small Business Saturday

Photo: Life-sized Shop Small® gingerbread shop in San Diego, CA.


The ninth annual Small Business Saturday kicked off the holiday shopping season for consumers and small, independently owned businesses with record levels of reported spending.

Total reported spending among U.S. consumers who said they shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on November 24, 2018, reached a record high of an estimated $17.8 billion, according to data released today from the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey from American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Based on this annual survey over the years, Small Business Saturday spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began in 2010.

Communities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico celebrated this Small Business Saturday with special events and activities. From lighting up the Empire State Building blue in New York to crafting a life-sized Shop Small® gingerbread shop in San Diego, to block parties featuring local jazz and salsa bands in San Juan, businesses and neighborhoods showed what makes their communities unique and vibrant. According to the same survey, an estimated 104 million U.S. consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently owned businesses on Small Business Saturday.

The survey also found that an estimated seven in ten (70%) American adults are aware of Small Business Saturday. Among consumers who said they shopped small on the day, 42 percent reported shopping with family and friends at independently owned businesses, and 83 percent reported encouraging others to also shop or dine small. Shoppers also turned out for online small businesses—among consumers who said they participated on the day, 41 percent reported that they shopped small online.

In a separate, new survey of small business owners with storefronts—2018 Small Business Owner Insights Survey—American Express and the NFIB explored the importance of the holiday shopping season. Finding from the survey, which took place November 5-12, in advance of Small Business Saturday, included:
  • Small business owners expect an average of 29 percent of their total annual sales to take place during the holiday shopping season.
  • 59 percent said Small Business Saturday contributes significantly to their holiday sales each year.
  • Two-thirds of small business owners surveyed (66%) said they were planning promotions, sales or activities during the shopping days following Thanksgiving (i.e., Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday) to take advantage of the holiday shopping season.
  • Among companies that were planning promotions on Small Business Saturday, 92 percent said the day helps their business stand out during the busy holiday shopping season and that the benefits of participating include bringing in more and new customers (74%), improved sales (70%), raised awareness of small businesses in their community (69%) and the day helps their local neighborhood and community prosper (66%).
Looking at the full shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, small business owners are optimistic about the holiday shopping season.
  • More than eight in ten (83%) said they have a positive outlook on their business’s holiday sales this year.
  • More than two-thirds (69%) of those surveyed expect their holiday sales to be stronger than in 2017.
  • Half (51%) of surveyed business owners reported they will extend their store hours beyond the normal business hours.
  • More than one third (36%) plan to hire more staff for the holiday season.

Small Business Saturday benefits communities beyond just one day. According to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, 96 percent of consumers who reported shopping on Small Business Saturday said the day makes them want to Shop Small all year long, not just during the holiday season.