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More than £1bn spent on UK’s Small Business Saturday

Saleha Riaz
·3-min read
Money spent on 5 December exceeded the billion-pound mark as shoppers showed support for their local high streets. Photo: Getty
Money spent on 5 December exceeded the billion-pound mark as shoppers showed support for their local high streets. Photo: Getty

Money spent on Small Business Saturday, held on 5 December this year, hit £1.1bn ($1.5bn), exceeding the billion-pound mark for the first time ever as shoppers showed support for their local high streets. This comes as a crucial time, as small businesses take a hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK’s eighth annual Small Business Saturday saw 15.4 million people hitting the high street and shopping small, according to research commissioned by the American Express, the initiative’s founder and principal supporter.

This represented a 2.2 million decline in footfall compared with last year, but the average per person spend rose from £45.42 in 2019 to £70.74 in 2020, a 56% increase, the study showed.

3,701 UK adults were polled over the weekend, and the £1.1bn figure for national spending was calculated using an estimation of the UK adult population.

Almost half (48%) of shoppers who took to the high street said they chose to spend money with small businesses as they wanted to support them as much as possible after a tough year.

READ MORE: Small business will be 'engine' to UK economic recovery in 2021

Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday, noted that while the initiative has been running for eight years, “this year’s campaign has been our most vital. We are delighted that it’s generated such a massive boost for small businesses, at a time they are facing huge challenges with the ongoing effects of the pandemic.”

“I have no doubt that this strong support for small businesses has been driven by recognition of the critical role they played in our communities during lockdown.

“While there is light at the end of the tunnel for 2021, with a vaccine, this winter is still going to be tough for many small businesses and it’s so important that we all continue to support them.”

Ovens earlier explained to Yahoo Finance UK the many ways in which people can show their support — via online shopping and click and collect services, as well as by leaving a good review, spreading the word on social media and buying vouchers or gift cards that can be redeemed in the future.

Research commissioned by American Express and Small Business Saturday UK showed that coronavirus lockdowns boosted the nation’s love for small businesses, with 59% of Brits saying they now support local businesses more than previously.

Small Business Saturday UK works around the year to help local businesses which includes workshops and mentoring.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, at the start of 2020 there were 5.94 million small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees) in the UK, employing 13.3 million people, with a turnover of £1.6tn.

Ovens has previously lauded the government for its efforts to support businesses, saying “nobody could have predicted the money pumped into the economy in the forms of local grants, loans and furlough schemes.”

However some small business leaders have hit out against the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus, and the ensuing lockdowns.

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