Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and, since in 2010, Small Business Saturday -- November and December sales represent as much as 40 percent of yearly retail stores sales, according to the National Retail Federation. Because Thanksgiving fell so late on the calendar, there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. This squeeze in shopping days has not happened to retailers since 2002. On top of that, Chanukah fell on Thanksgiving, which last happened in 1888 and won't happen again during our lifetime. This leaves only 26 shopping days left to buy stuff and Chanukah in the rearview mirror, so you can't count on those sales, either. Can small businesses, many of which are teetering on survival with the lackluster retail year, that saw bumps along the way like sequestration and a 16-day government shutdown, actually survive into 2014?
Who are these small business owners that may not be around next year? One section is immigrants who, since the beginning of America, have been the backbone of small business retailers. In Europe for centuries there has been a merchant class that had a long history of selling products into established clientele. Many laws in Europe protect these small retailers against bigger competitors. In America, the desire to throw yourself whole heartedly into your business by putting in long hours and becoming a beacon where relatives follow you and work for you to have room and board, is part of the price of entry into retailing for many of our immigrants. Much like the family farm over the last 150 years on the American frontier, it has become the family store for the immigrant classes to start their life in the New World.
Another section of small business retailers who have emerged are entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dream. Some may have worked for big stores and felt they could do it better. Others may be following an idea they have been honing since they first started shopping. These entrepreneurs are disciplined and are focused on making their business work. These individuals are confident and don't ask questions about whether they can succeed or are even worthy of success, because they know their business will succeed. They are open minded knowing that every situation is a business opportunity. These entrepreneurs are self-starters, knowing that if something needs to be done, they have the ability to start it themselves. They are competitive, knowing they can do it better than anyone else. They are creative and can make a connection between seemingly unrelated events. But most of all they are passionate and genuinely love the products they sell in their stores.
We know we have to support small businesses. The government has an important division known as the U.S. Small Business Administration. Retired successful business people know that our small businesses must survive so they have formed SCORE (service core of retired executives) whose mission is to mentor and grow small businesses across America, one business at a time. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to small businesses across the country, so make sure you nominate your favorite local business.
Americans have tried not to forget about their neighbors running the small businesses in their towns. In 2012 when Small Business Saturday fell on November 24, $5.5 billion was spent at small businesses. 100 million people participated in Small Business Saturday last year, but obviously this number is surpassed by the 247 million who shopped on Black Friday. Retailers know that an increase in sales cures most problems and evidently a decrease in sales creates most problems. None of us want to see more and more of these small businesses going out of business. But unless all of us step up and buy locally rather than have these local dollars go to an unknown chain corporate office outside of our city, we will see more and more of our neighbors' businesses disappear. Local retailers give a city its character. When you think America is the true melting pot of characters, we have to support small businesses.