The holiday shopping season is well underway. And for the past several years, Small Business Saturday has been a staple of holiday shopping calendars, giving independent retailers an opportunity to cash in on the pre-holiday spending craze. So how is Small Business Saturday (taking place on November 26) shaping up this year, and will minority and women-owned businesses benefit? 

As the data show, Americans are less likely overall to shop at local retailers for holiday gifts and more likely to shop at discount stores than last November, with 28% taking the big-box store route (5pp higher) and 12% opting for local businesses (down 5pp). 

Of course, we all remember the collective push to shop local at the beginning of the pandemic. In an effort to keep prized independent stores afloat, CivicScience tracking saw a massive jump in shopping local in April of 2020. However, since the beginning of 2022, and as Americans have prioritized getting back to “normal,” that interest has steadily declined. Loss in local retail shopping has also likely been a casualty of inflation, as consumers shift their shopping habits in search of discounts and lower prices to contend with higher than average prices.

Is Small Business Saturday Sunk? 

Will Small Business Saturday lose out this year, or can it help to recoup lost interest in local retailer holiday shopping? The data reveal that 44% of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to shop Small Business Saturday this year. The good news for local/independent retailers is that expectations are close to last year’s (45%). However, those who are ‘very likely’ to shop on this day decreased by two points, indicating a near plateau in interest overall. 

But participating retailers should anticipate less spending overall, as expected holiday spending is down across the board. Of those who are ‘very likely’ to shop on Small Business Saturday, 33% plan to spend less on the holiday season than last year – a 43% jump from 2021’s results. 

Minority and Woman Owned Businesses May Benefit

While perhaps not always top of mind for every purchase, 42% of Americans say that supporting minority-owned and woman-owned businesses are important when deciding where to shop and what to buy. One-third say they make it a priority to purchase products and services from minority and woman-owned businesses with some degree of regularity.

Data show these sentiments are much stronger amongst younger adults (35 and under), Black and Latinx communities, and women – potentially the very people most likely to experience the impact of these purchasing decisions. And this year’s potential Small Business Saturday shoppers who are ‘very likely’ to shop the event also over-index as supporters of minority and woman-owned businesses – 52% say they are at least ‘somewhat important’ when deciding where to shop and what to buy, and 28% say they are ‘very important.’

So while purchasing priorities have shifted in the last year, results suggest that Small Business Saturday could benefit local and independent businesses this year to some extent. Check back next month for continued updates on this topic. And if you want to learn more about the latest consumer trends this holiday season, download the CivicScience Consumer Holiday Tracker.