Small Business Saturday kicks off an expected successful holiday shopping season

BOSTON — On the heels of Black Friday, many owners hope Small Business Saturday kicks off with a successful and lucrative holiday shopping season.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu will show her support by visiting seven small businesses across the city and throughout the day.

Even with the hurdles of inflation, supply chain hold-ups, and staffing shortages, businesses are optimistic this holiday season.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts (RAM) predicts a 6% increase in local holiday shopping sales. While that’s encouraging, it’s below the National Retail Federation’s projection of an 8.5-10.5% increase.

This time of year is crucial for many businesses, with about 20% of a store’s annual sales happening during the holiday shopping season. The retail sector in Massachusetts employs 600,000 people and accounts for 17% of all jobs in the state. This time last year, about 44% of small businesses in Boston were closed.

RAM President Jon Hurst said that in the face of ever-changing guidelines and restrictions, many stores were forced to adapt and embrace the digital age by offering online shopping. Before the pandemic, Hurst said just 26% of RAM’s 4,000 member businesses sold their products online. That number nearly doubled to 50% last year and has increased to 60% this year, making it easier for people to support their favorite small businesses right from the comfort of their couch.

Even with this expansion in online sales capabilities, Hurst expects the biggest boost in sales to come from in-person shopping this year.

“We’re seeing a bit of a shift where perhaps last year you can understand why people were perhaps doing a little more online, pre-vaccine, and the like,” said Hurst. “Today, we expect the consumer is very confident, they feel safe, and they want that experience to once again get out and shop face-to-face on their main streets and in their shopping districts across the Commonwealth.”