Saturday 5th December sees the nation celebrating their independent businesses, as Small Business Saturday becomes the talk of the town!

What is Small Business Saturday?

It’s a grassroots, non-commercial campaign aimed toward highlighting small business success and encouraging consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities. Here in Suffolk, we have plenty of small businesses which need the support for the community. This includes cafes, boutiques and various services across the county.

The day itself takes place on the first shopping Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. By focussing on raising awareness for this one day, we’re giving independents the lasting boost they need to continue enhancing our local (and national!) economy.

What can I do to get involved?

  • Use the official ‘Small Business Finder‘ to find your nearest independents and support them during the festive period. Or see our Artisan Directory, which features some of our favourite shops and services in East Anglia.
  • Talk about your favourite small businesses on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Download a media pack to help promote the day, including posters and a window sticker.
  • Share videos from the campaign’s YouTube channel.

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Have a Pub Lunch

The Forum of Private Business urges shoppers to have a pub lunch this weekend (don’t mind if we do!) to help support the trade. This follows the decision of the government to water down its proposals for the property-owning pub cos.

Park for Free

Since 2011, a year after American Express launched small business Saturday or ‘Shop Local’ as it is called this year, the Forum has urged councils to offer free parking for the day.

This year the Forum has emailed all councils, using data from www.gov.uk to ask if they will extend this offer into Sunday so that individuals can take advantage of the night time economy. Already councils as diverse as South Norfolk, and Fylde are offering free parking until Monday 7th December while others are looking at feasibility for next year.

Make sure to check if your local council is offering free parking this weekend!

Buy Local this Christmas

Increasingly high streets have to be inventive to encourage consumers to visit and many councils have arranged festivals, markets or other events on Small Business Saturday so that residents can see the value of buying locally.

Some high streets are using the date to introduce loyalty cards (Tamworth and New Forest District Councils), introduce young people to entrepreneurship (Kettering) or just introduce festive fun through the start of Santa’s Grotto (Wrexham).

Ian Cass, Managing Director of the Forum of Private Business, argues ‘to survive in the modern era that high street has to be more than a sum of its shops.

‘Like retail shops and banks, public houses are an integral part of many communities and are increasingly relied upon to offer services lacking on the high street from toilets to cash machines.

‘However they are suffering in the same way as the rest of the high street, through high business rates and increased costs of employment. On top of this they face restrictions on trade that we feel are unfair.

‘So we would encourage all shoppers this Christmas to visit their high street, rather than the out of town shopping centre and take a look at what local stores have to offer in terms of presents, stocking fillers and food offerings.’