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Indies look to Small Biz Sat as ‘answer’ to Black Friday

Independent wine shops are encouraging shoppers to support local businesses in an event seen by many as the “independent’s answer” to Black Friday.

They are  hoping to see a boost this weekend on the back of Small Business Saturday on 5 December, following widespread muted reaction to the American post-Thanksgiving sale splurge last week.

Launched in 2013, the day is intended to provide opportunity to support local businesses and build on the relationship between independent retailers and their customers. It is supported by American Express and many local authorities and MPs, and includes representatives from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the Federation of Small Businesses on its advisory panel alongside business mentoring, enterprise and marketing experts.

Last year the day saw a 20% boost to local businesses compared with the year before, with around16.5 million shoppers spending a total of £504m in local small shops.

Unwined – a wine shop and bar in Tooting Market that opened this year, said it was a more suitable event for independents to take part in, as although good from a PR point-of-view, Black Friday was more likely to financially hurt a small business.

“As a small business we don’t have the buying power of the big retailers. Likewise we have products from small producers and we feel it wouldn’t be in their interest to significantly discount their quality products. Small Biz Saturday is a day to champion smaller businesses, and show how they specialise in unique yet affordable products,” co-founder Kiki Evans said told db.

“It puts the focus back on the small businesses in the community, and reminds consumers there is an alternative to the big retailers for more personalised, knowledgable service and unique products,” she said.

Duncan Murray of Duncan Murray Wines in Market Harborough, said the initiative fitted “perfectly” with what the store already does on a weekly basis and provided a blank canvas for independents.

“Black Friday affects the big guys, but with small shops, it’s not about the price, but the style. So it goes hand in hand with what we do,” Murray told the drinks business. “The shop small initiative really helps and last year we saw a much-increased buzz. In the ten days before Christmas, we did the equivalent of 3 months sales, and December accounts for around a third of the annual business.”

Awareness among consumers was growing, he added, but there was still room for improvement. The wine shop features on the Small Business 100, a selection of 100 stores showcased in the run up to the event, which Murray said was likely to boost its visibility.

As part of the initiative, American Express is rewarding its members who shop in independent stores. Its Shop Small offer is offering £5 credit for every £10 shoppers spend in participating small businesses between 5 and 20 December.

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