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Small Business Saturday 2015 in Seattle

Shopping small: Younger shoppers are helping make Small Business Saturday a success

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Updated November 24, 2018 08:00 AM EST

Editor's note: This story was originally published Nov. 24, 2016. We're bringing it back today in honor of Small Business Saturday!

By NATALIA ANGULO-HINKSON, Circa

WASHINGTON (CIRCA) - Small Business Saturday is a chance to shop local and support the little guys.

American Express created the "holiday," but it's become more than just a shopping day -- it's evolved into a movement that helps the independent Main Street businesses that fuel the American economy.

"It has turned the whole weekend into a big weekend for us," said Erin Barker, manager at Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, Virginia. "[It's] a great way to kick off the holiday season."

Shopping local is a consumer trend that is currently blooming in the United States.

Not a big-box boycott

The National Retail Federation says that among the millions of consumers hitting the stores during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, 24 percent plan to "shop small" on Saturday. That's up 2 percent from last year. Twenty-eight percent of young consumers are expected to go small, too.

Shoppers aren't boycotting big-box stores by any means, but being able to find one-of-a-kind items and give back to their local economy is becoming a priority for an increasing number of consumers.

Small Business Saturday 2015 in Seattle
Seattle-based band My Goodness is seen after a set at Silver Platters record store on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Seattle. (Matt Mills McKnight/AP Images for American Express)

A Deloitte survey found 60 percent of respondents shop local for the benefit of the economy. The same Deloitte survey found 56 percent of consumers said they shopped small looking for uncommon wares.

" ... a lot of people are looking to continue engaging with their local community."
Ana Serafin Smith, NRF senior director of media relations

"This number keeps growing every year, because a lot of people are looking to continue engaging with their local community," Ana Serafin Smith, senior director of media relations for NRF, told Circa. "It's an opportunity to support them, to meet your neighbors and to also buy very unique gifts that sometimes you won't be able to find online or in some of the big-box stores."

The 28 million small businesses in America create two out of every three new jobs.

Obama, Small Business Saturday
President Barack Obama, joined by his daughters Malia, left, and Sasha, right, orders at Pleasant Pops on Small Business Saturday in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Small Business Saturday has gained local and national support from major companies and elected officials. Even President Barack Obama has shopped the event in Washington, D.C.

Sales in 2015 hit $16.2 billion, per the National Federation of Independent Business.

Those numbers take into account both retail and restaurant sales for the Saturday shopping day.

As the lines between e-commerce and in-store continue to blur, and attracting consumers becomes increasingly competitive, Small Business Saturday is proving an excellent way to bring in millennials and drive overall awareness and interest.

Fifty-five percent of shoppers over 18 know about the sales holiday. Plus, 83 percent say it has inspired them to shop small year-round, according to an NFIB and American Express consumer insights survey.

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"We have real great customers all year-round, but Small Business Saturday feels a little bit more like a celebration," Hooray for Books!' Barker said.

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