Shoppers across the UK are being urged to get behind local and independent businesses in the run up to Christmas, as part of Small Business Saturday.
The initiative was started in the US in 2010 by American Express to help small businesses compete with larger rivals. It was hailed as a great success, boosting the turnover of US small businesses by £3.5 billion, and launches in the UK for the first time in 2013.
From the Small Business Saturday website, businesses can access marketing materials such as posters and badges and social media guidance.
As part of the event, the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has announced a package of measures that it hopes will boost the sector.
These include broadband ‘vouchers’ for 22 cities across the UK, worth £100m in total, to give local firms faster internet connectivity; and fairer, more transparent energy deals with the major suppliers.
Business secretary Vince Cable added that the government was also investing £250m in the British Business Bank, which he established in 2012, to help smaller firms access finance from alternative sources, such as angel investors or crowdfunding.
Enterprise and skills minister Matthew Hancock said, “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy and Small Business Saturday is a chance for everyone to get behind our small firms. It’s an idea that has taken off in America and is getting great support here, too.”
As well as small businesses, a number of local councils will be also taking part, holding dedicated events in city and town centres.
The Post Office is one of the institutions supporting the day, offering bonuses and vouchers to small businesses that use its fast-track service.
Dwaine Seddon, Post Office SME propositions manager said that Small Business Saturday was “a great chance to recognise that small businesses are such a huge part of the UK economy.”
Mobile operator EE is marking the day by offering smaller firms savings of up to £155 on its 4GEE small business plans.
Adam Marshall, policy director at the British Chambers of Commerce, called on the government to take the opportunity to work on the problems faced by small businesses.
“The government is right to say that Britain is a great place to start a business. Now it needs to become a great place to grow a business, too.