LAUNCHPAD: 'Small Business Saturday' - coming to a high street near you?

David Cameron has come over all transatlantic, with plans to launch a special day dedicated to small shops.

by Emma Haslett

A rare example of cross-party agreement here: David Cameron is reportedly in talks with ‘several high-profile partners’ – including American Express – to launch a ‘Small Business Saturday’ in early December, an idea originally mooted last month by shadow business secretary Chukka Umunna.

It’s similar to a US scheme launched in 2010, which encourages consumers to shop at independent stores rather than big chains. Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and supported by President Obama, last year it generated $5.5bn of extra sales for small businesses across the pond.

It’s thought American Express, which is heavily involved in the US version of the scheme, is keen to launch a similar one over here. The day would take place on December 7, aka the busiest shopping day of the year. The Association of Convenience Stores and the Federation of Small Businesses have also both given their backing to the scheme.

When Umunna suggested the initiative back in July, he said ‘we do not celebrate nearly enough what small businesses do’.

‘On its own, a UK Small Business Saturday will not transform the fortunes of our small businesses but, as the US experience demonstrates, it gives us all a special opportunity to do our bit to ensure those who take risks, set up shop and provide jobs in our local communities get more of the recognition they so deserve, by making a point of spending our money in their businesses on the big day. It’s time to back our small businesses,’ he said.

We’d be inclined to agree – although we can’t shake the gnawing feeling that now large retailers are showing encouraging signs of recovery but small firms trailing behind, this is cross-party gimmickry when shops need solid help from the government. Mind you, we suppose anything is better than inflicting Mary Portas on the high street again…

- Image: Flickr/BabyDinosaur

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