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What are you doing for Small Business Saturday?

As Christmas shoppers hit the High Street this weekend, the UK's 5.7m small businesses will be in the spotlight, as Small Business Saturday returns for its sixth year.

Last year's event was supported by communities across the UK and saw an estimated £748m spent in small businesses while #SmallBizSatUK trended on Twitter.
FSB is a big supporter of the campaign, which encourages people to "shop local" on thefirst Saturday in December.

The campaign kicks off with its "Small Biz 100" countdown, championing a small business a day in the 100 days to the event itself on 1 December - a key Christmas shopping day.

The build-up continues with a bus tour over 3,000 miles across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the 25 days before Small Business Saturday, showcasing local businesses.

And FSB members will be taking part in force on the day itself.

"I think it's a really great opportunity to promote your brand and also be part of something much bigger than your own business," says Dana Burton, owner of Goodfayre, a shop which specialises in vegan and plastic-free products.

"Sometimes being an entrepreneur can be a bit lonely and it's nice to be part of a community of fellow businesses." 

Goodfayre, in Salisbury, was among the Small Biz 100 featured businesses and will run its own "shop takeover" on Saturday 1 December, inviting small local producers to come in and showcase their products. But it is also part of a city-wide event, which includes a walking tour of Salisbury's independent businesses.

"The whole thing has made me reassess working collaboratively with other small businesses and how important that is," says Dana.

Small Business Saturday grows year on year and gets wide support from local businesses but also councils, politicians and others. Last year's campaign was backed by the prime minister and mayor of London, as well as more than 87% of councils.

“It’s important to support small businesses all year round and, particularly as the festive season draws closer, this weekend’s Small Business Saturday is a great way to encourage shoppers to back their local small firms," said Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman.

“FSB has long supported the initiative and the important work it does to highlight the hard-working small businesses, and we hope even more people get behind the event this year.”

Lynda Case, owner of Rock Follies Vintage, in Worcester, takes part every year and is also on the Small Biz 100 list. 

Small Business Saturday falls on a busy weekend in the city, when the Worcester Victorian Fayre draws in more than 100,000 visitors, so it's hard to measure how much extra business it brings in.

But she says: "I do have particular people who come in and say: We are coming in today for independents-only, we are only going to spend in independent businesses."

"I really think with all of this 'death of the High Street' stuff, people are saying: Hold on, we don't want our High Street to go, perhaps we should go and buy a coffee in our little cafe."

"We need the big chains, we need the little independents and I think all together we make the High Street and we all complement each other. Just having Amazon would be a very boring world."

And it's not just about shops. The Small Biz 100 list includes a wide variety of small businesses for local communities to support on 1 December.

Featured businesses include: Social enterprise Musical Movements; virtual assistant business Boatman Admin Services; peer-to-peer car rental firm hiyacar; Flood Protection Solutions Ltd; design and digital marketing agency The DM Lab and social business Fair Trade Scotland Ltd.

Small businesses are vital to local communities with FSB research showing that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-size business, 63 per cent is re-spent in the local area - compared to 40p in every £1 spent with a chain or larger business.

Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK, said: “The contribution of small businesses to the economy is immense, making up more than half of the UK’s private sector turnover. However, their value is far more than monetary, actively helping their communities with work and training opportunities, as well as mentoring and charitable work. 

“The high street is clearly facing a lot of challenges – people will always want to connect and small businesses are at the heart of doing this in communities."  

She added: “Small businesses are incredible stalwarts of our communities, but they will not be able to support us if we don’t support them back." 

Small Business Saturday began in the US in 2010, founded by American Express, which remains a supporter of the UK event.