Open sign. Photo: Getty Images
November 27th marked the 12th Small Business Saturday and the most profitable one so far. Photo: Getty Images

Small Business Saturday’s impact on Philadelphia

A day created to help small businesses after an economic downturn is set to help many recover from the pandemic.


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Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express to help small businesses get more customers in the wake of the Great Recession. Over the years, customers have spent approximately $163 billion on this day. 

In 2021, Small Business Saturday brought in $23.3 billion, exceeding every previous year. That’s $3.5 billion more than 2020, and $3.7 billion more than 2019. 

This is great news for local communities like Philadelphia. A statement from the Director of Commerce stated that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 is going back into the community. This is compared to the $43 that goes back into the community for every $100 spent at a big box store.   

These numbers are even better for local small businesses. After the effects of the pandemic last year, how well sales go this holiday season could determine if a business can stay open another year. 

Over half of small businesses felt some negative impact from the pandemic and over 30% think that recovery from it will take more than six months, according to a Fox29 report

Thankfully it wasn’t all grim for small businesses during COVID. Jaclyn Lee of 6ABC noted that the majority of small businesses that were forced to close on Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill area have been replaced with new ones. This information tracks with the 4.3 million new businesses that had filed paperwork in 2020. 

Places in the Philadelphia area and surrounding suburbs helped by encouraging people to come out. In Doylestown, they even extend Small Business Saturday into Sunday to make it Small Business Weekend. 

Was free parking hurting local businesses?

After 20 years, parking will no longer be free on the Saturdays between Thanksgiving and New Year. The Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability determined that this practice actually had the opposite effect than what was intended. 

When it was put in place, the city thought it would lead to more people having the ability to shop locally without worrying about parking. In reality, people would park their cars in one space all day, which led to fewer people being able to shop. 

What have peoples’ opinions been on the move? Pretty mixed. Online some thought the move seemed reasonable, while others accused the city of being greedy. 


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