SCENE + HEARD: Today's Read #ShopSmall and Small Business Saturday Take on More Meaning in 2020 By Mark Tosh Wednesday, November 25, 2020 12:00 AM NEW YORK—This has been a difficult year for many businesses, but perhaps small businesses have been hurt more than most. This is one reason many small-business owners are looking forward to the annual Small Business Saturday event that takes place today, Nov. 28, sandwiched in between Black Friday (which won’t look the same this year) and Cyber Monday, which is projected to be another boon for retailers with an online presence. Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday (which has since been rolled under the umbrella of the year-round #ShopSmall movement) is celebrated each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s a day that many see as truly being dedicated to supporting small businesses and their communities across the country. Since it began in 2010, consumers have reported spending an estimated $120 billion across all 10 Small Business Saturdays combined, according to American Express. And many optical businesses are proud to take part in the effort, including Vista Eye Care of Thornton, Colo., and Green Eye Associates of Waco, Texas, and Optyx New York Eyecare. (Note that small businesses can find resources and a toolkit to help them make the most of Small Business Saturday on the dedicated Small Business Saturday website.) According to some studies, small businesses make up more than 99 percent of all business in the U.S., and employ 47.5 percent of the nation’s workers. Yet, on average, roughly half of these businesses fail to reach a five-year anniversary, in part because the convenience of big-box stores and online marketplaces put extreme competitive pressure on small-business owners. This is one of the reasons American Express launched its Small Business Saturday efforts a decade ago to draw attention to the benefits of shopping local and to drive awareness of the importance of small business to their respective local communities. The American Express effort on behalf of small business came about in the midst of a recession in 2010. A year later, as the Shop Small Movement started to pick up momentum, many local officials across the nation took steps to promote the day. And, in 2011, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day. The nascent shopping day even got a shout-out from President Barack Obama in 2011. “Through events such as Small Business Saturday, we keep our local economies strong and help maintain an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century,” he noted on The White House website Also in 2011, business associations, nonprofit trade groups and many municipalities began to come together to form Small Business Saturday Coalitions to further ramp up interested in the day and to encourage everyone to #ShopSmall. The effort pays off across the board, according to studies. But this year may be more important than the preceding Small Business Saturdays. Indeed, 62 percent of U.S. small businesses report that they need to see consumer spending return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 in order to stay in business, according to American Express. This seems worthy rationale for making a purchase or utilizing a neighborhood small business this weekend. Separately, in what may be a good sign for all businesses, the National Retail Federation said this week that it’s forecast for holiday sales during November and December shows an increase of between 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent over 2019 (a total of between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion). The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with a 4 percent increase to $729.1 billion last year and an average holiday sales increase of 3.5 percent over the past five years.