There has never been a better time to take a slice of the Thanksgiving sales pie thanks to Small Business Saturday. And quite the pie it is too…

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Buy Nothing Day, Gray Thursday, Small Business Saturday. The Thanksgiving weekend is fast approaching and while we’ll all undoubtedly spend the requisite amount of time eating turkey, watching football, and fighting with obscure family members, more and more consumers will be focused on one thing: sales season.

Last year, an estimated $61.4 billion was spent over the Thanksgiving weekend. That’s an average of $413.02 per shopper – more than double the number in 2005. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving – in case you’ve been living under the proverbial retail rock – is now the biggest single shopping day of the year. So, for business owners big and small, this weekend presents a revenue boosting opportunity not to be missed.

Big-box retailers like Macy’s, Walmart, Sears, Best Buy, and Target have developed a reputation for offering huge, loss-leader discounts to entice large numbers through their doors. In fact these discounts have become so enticing that last few years have seen a large number of violent incidents with shoppers fighting to grab the best bargain! On top of that many consumers are now choosing to do their shopping online, giving Amazon a huge pay day.

So, how can you as a local business owner compete?

The good news is this: A big part of the normal sales process is already done as consumers minds are primed and ready to buy. For many, shopping at Thanksgiving has become an expected habit – so you’re job isn’t to convince people to spend their money but simply to spend it with you. And that’s where Small Business Saturday can play such an important role.

Small Business Saturday is a movement started in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to ditch the big-box retailers and shop at local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, the big day is Nov 29. The day has grown in popularity receiving increasing media exposure, support from congress, and even encouraging tweets from the President. All of which has provided an incredible platform for you to reach out to your local communities and remind them what an important part you and other stores like you play in the neighborhood. Small Business Saturday is your chance to take advantage of the people’s readiness to spend and remind them what a local store can offer that a big-box can’t.

 Last week we reached out to some of our favorite ShopKeep small business owners to find out how they planned to do just that:

“We’re building buzz through social media, and will be holding a day of Instagram contest! A postcard mailing will go out to a select group of regular customers, offering $5 off their purchase on SBS. Lastly, we will be serving homemade cookies in the store on Small Business Saturday!”

Christine H., Foxglove Market & Studio St. Paul, MN

“Our small coffee shop is having a 20 % discount on jewelry and scarves. We plan to gift wrap, too. We are planning to promote through Facebook, posters and radio ads.”

Sue P., Central Park Coffee Co, Owatonna, MN

“Our local businesses are spreading the word online about each other’s social media posts with the hashtag #shopalva. When any one of us posts a photo or update, we’re all liking and re-sharing it to build more local buzz. We’re also cooperating with the Chamber of Commerce on the Christmas Open House.”

Becky M., Allen’s Retail Liquors, Alva, OK

“If you have any great ideas about how to support Small Business Saturday, or how to best leverage the attention to drive sales in your store, let us know in the comments below.”

Remember: It’s important to take advantage of Small Business Saturday to build relationships that last well beyond the day itself. We’ve pulled together expert guides on social media, content marketing, the art of sales, and email marketing which will help you learn how to build and manage a marketing database and use automated marketing to drive repeat business. You can download those guides here.

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.