Small Business Saturday Looms Large for Retailers Credit: Holiday buying image via Shutterstock

With less than three weeks until Small Business Saturday, business owners are busy preparing for the day many call the most important of the year, new research shows.

The study by theNational Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express found that 34 percent of business owners say Small Business Saturday, which this year falls on Nov. 24, is the most important shopping day during holiday season, compared with 24 percent who cited Black Friday and 14 percent who said Cyber Monday.

Overall, nearly half of the small businesses surveyed are incorporating Small Business Saturday into their holiday strategy, with the majority planning to use the occasion as an opportunity to offer some type of discount.

"In just three years, Small Business Saturday went from an idea to help Small Business find more customers to a permanent fixture on the holiday shopping calendar," said Susan Sobbott, president, American Express OPEN. "According to the research, we are seeing the small business community take ownership of the day and make it their own."

Small business owners have high hopes for this year's event. The study found that 80 percent of the small business owners surveyed expect a year-over-year boost in sales from Small Business Saturday.

While many business owners will be focusing on driving value to customers through discounts, the survey revealed a number of other incentives they will be using to lure in shoppers, including offering free gift-wrapping, as well as free prizes and gifts.

In order to prepare, 87 percent of small businesses are promoting the event via social media, while 28 percent are planning to increase staffing levels on the big day.

Dan Danner, NFIB CEO, said research has shown that American consumers have a deep trust in, and admiration for, the small business community.

"Small Business Saturday gives them a chance to show their appreciation — and help America's essential job creators in a very real way — by patronizing small shops, restaurants and service providers," Danner said.

The study was based on surveys of 500 owners/managers of retail establishments with physical storefronts, kiosks and restaurants/bars/pubs that are not part of a franchise.

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