Now that the dust from Black Friday has settled in shopping malls and megastores across the country, small businesses are hoping for big returns on the country's first ever Small Business Saturday.
Firmly planted between Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- when online retailers offer huge sales -- Small Business Saturday was designed to encourage shoppers across the U.S. to support local merchants in their holiday shopping as a means of driving up local economies.
Over a dozen advocacies along with public and private organizations have joined American Express, the event's primary sponsor, to declare today Small Business Saturday and raise awareness about the importance of small business to local communities.
The event is not meant to discourage people from shopping at larger chains or online. Rather, its advocates hope to encourage consumers to dedicate a percentage of their holiday shopping budget to local businesses -- be it by having dinner at a local restaurant or buying gifts at neighborhood stores.
To support the cause, American Express is offering its cardholders the opportunity to earn a $25 statement credit on purchases of at least $25 on Small Business Saturday at locally owned independent small businesses.
"We wanted to be the catalyst for a movement for small businesses," Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express said in a recent interview on NBC's "Today" show. "We all know how important small business is to our economy. Small businesses generated 60-80% of the net new jobs over the last decade."
"We really wanted to raise awareness and get people involved. We're all in this together we can make a difference. When you buy local and small business, you're creating jobs," Chenault added.
According to a 2004 study by Economic Impact, for every $100 consumers spend at a local business, $68 remains in the local economy, whereas only $43 remains in the local economy when that $100 is spent at a chain store. Over the past two decades, small businesses created 65 percent of net new jobs.
The event has picked up publicity recently, particularly online via social media sites. Now with over a million fans, the event's Facebook page is one of the site's fastest growing fan pages. According to AllFacebook the page has had 850,000 'likes' in just over two weeks. Meanwhile, Twitter users are using the hash tag "#SmallBizSat" to promote the event and discuss what local bargains they are offering and finding.
"Black Friday is mostly for big stores, so it's nice to have an incentive to shop in your own neighborhood," Kari Johnson, manager of a Portland, Ore. cookware store told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV. "We're doing it to get people out to shop locally."
Shoppers seeking out deals associated with the event can find a list of some participating business at the National Federation of Independent Business website.