Leader Views


Posted on:
29th November, 2018

Give your local small businesses some love on Small Business Saturday

Saturday 1 December marks Small Business Saturday in the UK. In an exclusive piece for the LEP Network, Federation of Small Businesses Chairman of Policy and Advocacy, Martin McTague, underlines the challenges facing our high streets, why the campaign is so vital, and how all of us can help support our local small businesses.

Give your local small businesses some love on Small Business Saturday

"Our local high streets have been in the spotlight more than ever this year. Every week there are headlines highlighting the number of empty shops, job losses, or high profile chain and department stores going out of business.

Small firms, which make up more than 99% of businesses across the UK, are in the midst of this.

Small retailers continue to report the lowest confidence levels of any sector. And up against spiralling business rates, high rents and online competition, it’s easy to see why. Then there’s the challenges of expensive town centre parking sending customers away from the high street to large out of town retailers, and the loss of bank branches and ATMs. Despite being key to the success of a town centre, many are finding it too difficult to stay afloat.

Our ongoing work on high streets, and the publication of our High Streets Hub earlier this year, has shown that it will take central government, councils, community groups, businesses and consumers to come up with real solutions to help the high street thrive.

LEPs also have their part to play in supporting their local high streets and the small businesses based there, particularly through their small business representatives.

Incentives that will get shoppers out into town centres, spending money with small shops and in cafes, pubs and restaurants, should be celebrated. That’s why Small Business Saturday will be a huge opportunity for people to show their support for the businesses that play such a critical role in communities throughout the UK.

We’ve long supported the campaign, now in its sixth year, and earlier this month I was pleased to meet up with the Small Business Saturday team and many small firms when their campaign bus stopped off in Leeds.

Of course, it’s important to support small businesses throughout the year and, particularly as the festive season draws closer, Small Business Saturday is a great way to encourage shoppers to back their local small firms – and remind ourselves of the great products and services they offer on our doorsteps. Not tied in with layers of bureaucracy, they can react quickly to consumer demand, and often offer more interesting and bespoke products to shoppers.  

Small businesses are also far more likely to spend money in their own communities, than big international firms, spurring local growth. It’s a win - win.

In 2017, an amazing £748 million was spent with small businesses across the UK on the day, up 4% from the previous year, with more and more local authorities taking part with free parking and special events. It would be great to see these numbers rise again this year.

We know small businesses are very resilient - but they do need continued support. We encourage people to back their small local businesses all year round, but Small Business Saturday gives a great opportunity to rediscover their local small businesses – be it your greengrocer, hardware store or mechanic - and show them some love."


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