NEW YORK — Holiday shoppers turned out by the millions to show their support for retailers, salons and other small companies on Small Business Saturday. But they didn’t show it by splurging.
Some 88 million people shopped at small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving, up nearly 15 percent from last year, according to a survey released by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business. The survey questioned 2,682 people on Sunday.
The average shopper spent $162 at small businesses Saturday, down 11.5 percent from 2013. That drop was in line with the National Retail Federation’s estimate of an 11 percent decline in spending at retailers of all sizes during the holiday weekend.
The NRF said the uneven economy was one of the likely factors behind the weaker sales.
The Small Business Saturday program is designed to draw attention to small companies and increase their revenue year-round, not just during the holidays. AmEx, one of the sponsors of the program, offered its cardholders a credit of up to $30 on their statements if they spent $10 or more at three separate small businesses on Saturday. The consumers questioned in the survey were not limited to AmEx cardholders, said Scott Krugman, an AmEx spokesman.
Social media helped increase awareness of the Small Business Saturday program, AmEx and the NFIB said. On Twitter, more than 126,000 tweets were sent about the day on Saturday, up 10 percent from last year.