This week, after spending time with their families and loved ones, more than 165 million Americans are expected to participate in the busiest shopping weekend of the year as we kick off the holiday shopping season. Forecasters estimate that Americans will spend more than $730 billion during the holiday season — roughly 20 percent of the total retail spending projected this year.
Shoppers this weekend will no doubt take advantage of the deals available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but between those two major shopping events is the lesser-known but equally important Small Business Saturday.
First celebrated in 2010, Small Business Saturday has become an annual tradition for many communities across the country, with nearly 54 million Americans reporting that they plan to participate in the celebration this Saturday. I intend to be among them, and I urge all Americans to participate in the celebration as well.
When I meet with small-business owners across Maryland, they often remind me that the holiday season is when they grow their businesses and create jobs.
The data shows this also. Nearly 60 percent of small business owners report that Small Business Saturday “contributes significantly to their holiday sales,” and on Small Business Saturday 2018, Americans spent more than $17 billion with local independent shops.
Supporting our local small businesses is vital, because small businesses do much more than provide us with goods and services, they are the backbone of our economy — responsible for two out of every three net new jobs since 2000.
And in Maryland, small businesses comprise 99.5 percent of all businesses; they employ more than half of all workers, more than 1.1 million in total; and they account for more than 85 percent of all exporters in the state.
Thanks to our robust small-business ecosystem, Maryland boasts the highest concentrations of women-owned and minority-owned small businesses in the country, as well as the second highest concentration of minority-owned businesses.
Small-business owners support every facet of our communities, from our schools and Little League teams to our houses of worship and community organizations — reinvesting their profits back into the community at much higher rates than large companies. According to a 2018 study, an estimated two out of every three dollars spent with a small business stays in the community, and every dollar spent with a small business generates 50 cents in additional local business activity.
That’s what small businesses do: They turn our ZIP codes and city blocks into neighborhoods and communities. Small Business Saturday gives us an opportunity to show them our appreciation.
When we shop at our local small businesses, we are investing in the long-term health of our local economies and communities. This holiday season, as we spend time with our friends and loved ones, let’s be sure to support our local small businesses.
Ben Cardin, a Democrat, represents Maryland in the U.S. Senate.