Holiday sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are incredibly important for all businesses across Canada. But, let’s not forget about Small Business (November 26), which is conveniently nestled between both and was created with SMBs in mind. Every year, Canadians gear up for these peak days of shopping on and offline. We’re here to offer you tips on how to make the most out of them and to rake in some last-minute profits before the new year.

What’s Small Business Saturday?

If you’ve never heard of Small Business Saturday, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. As big corporations continued to profit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday year over year, small businesses didn’t reap the same rewards. There was a clear need for more attention from SMB owners and thus, the idea for Small Business Saturday was born. Just like its predecessors, Small Business Saturday originated in the US and was established in 2010 by American Express. It was designed to encourage customers to support locally owned small businesses rather than their counterparts of industry giants. As close as we are to our neighbors, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Ebay Canada adopted and sponsored this celebration to bring it to Canada in 2011. It’s a powerful tool for you to share your story and to sell your products or services.

Why SMBs Should Care

Canadians feel very strongly about supporting their local businesses and communities. In an RBC poll conducted by Ipsos Reid, 70% of Canadians plan on spending more at locally owned small businesses moving forward. Most consumers are aware that money spent at small businesses flows back into their community, supporting things like parks, schools and emergency services. Last year on Black Friday alone, Canadians spent $267 million online and $134 million in person. While the pandemic was still very present at the time, online shopping is expected to maintain its momentum as more and more businesses offer this option. In addition, according to a survey from Leger, 54% of Canadians surveyed participated in Black Friday Promotions in 2020. Suffice to say, Canadians love Holiday shopping.

Getting the Most out of Holiday Shopping

Preparation is key. Small business owners should be fully equipped to take on an influx of customers and orders. Thankfully, we have you covered with some tips on how to get the most out of Holiday sales events.

1. Get the Word Out

Whether it’s with social media, your newsletter or with posters or flyers – spread the word. The earlier the better too. One study found when consumers receive promotional messages during the months & weeks leading up to Black Friday, they were six times more likely to purchase products. With so many businesses fighting for their customers’ attention during this peak period, the best thing you can do is to be loud and to gradually build up awareness over time.

2. Stock up on Inventory

It may sound obvious, but you should be increasing your inventory to higher levels than you normally would, especially on your best-selling products. In the supply chain world, this is a common strategy known as ‘’safety stock inventory’’. Look back at your purchase history on your biggest shopping days. Which products sold off first? Stock up on those and make them easily accessible and visible to your customers.

3. Extend Business Hours

If you own a physical storefront, you might want to consider extending your business hours beyond regular hours on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. If you close early, shoppers might not have the time to stop by during their busy shopping schedule. Make it as convenient and easy as possible for your customers to shop for your products.

4. Offer Discounts or Promotions

It can be difficult for SMBs to compete since industry giants can afford to slash their prices up to 50%. Although you may not be able to match those prices, consider offering smaller discounts on your best products. This strategy may not attract new customers, but should grab the attention of your loyal customer base.

Often referred to as ‘’countdown deals’’, you could also consider staggering discounts on different products to keep customers coming back to your store throughout the week. Using a clothing store as an example, sweaters could be on discount during Black Friday and pants during Small Business Saturday.

As for promotions, you can opt for something like a ‘Spend more, Save more’’ campaign. With this strategy, you can set a minimum price point customers are required to spend to unlock discounts. Pair this up with product bundles to incentivize customers to reach your minimum price point.

5. Update Your Online Presence

Canadians spent twice as more money online compared to in-store purchases in 2021. Taking this into account, if you have one, make sure to optimize your website across all screens (desktop, tablet, mobile). You should also optimize your website and content for search (SEO). This means updating your online presence with Holiday sales messaging to increase the amount of organic traffic to your website and social media channels.

6. Find a Partner

Build an alliance with a competitor and partner up. As the popular saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Do some of the businesses or competitors near you offer complementary products or services? Is there a bakery near your coffee shop? Host an event and sell your product as bundles or offer discounts on your best sellers. Partnering up with a local business will make some noise and is bound to attract new attention. Customers enjoy seeing local businesses work together since it offers them the chance to discover new businesses with whom they can develop relationships with.

7. Be Creative

Lastly, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Research what others are doing and try to differentiate yourself in creative ways. For instance, can you use this opportunity as a product launch? Can you host an event with local artists or performers? Can you donate a portion of the day’s sales proceeds to charity? Shoppers are accustomed to seeing discounts, so what else can you offer? It doesn’t always have to be about how much volume you can sell. It can be a great opportunity to develop brand awareness and to increase your visibility, kickstarting the new year on the right path.

Final Thoughts

With increased spending from consumers during the pandemic and talks of a recession on the horizon, it’s difficult to say if Canadians will spend as much this year. That said, no one truly knows where our Canadians dollars will go. The best thing you can do is be ready to benefit if shoppers end up crowding the streets. It’s never a bad idea to run new marketing campaigns or to promote your products or services on a large scale. By doing so, you may just turn this year’s Holiday shopping into a profitable celebration.