UK Politics

Labour calls for US-style 'small business Saturday'

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia at a book shop on America's Small Business Saturday
President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia at a book shop on America's Small Business Saturday

The UK should emulate the US idea of having a day dedicated to encouraging people to shop at small, local shops, Labour's Chuka Umunna has said.

The shadow business secretary has asked American Express - which sponsors the US initiative - to see if they could bring the idea to the UK this year.

He has suggested 7 December as the first "Small Business Saturday".

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was an idea which would be considered.

In the US the idea of a day to promote local traders began in 2010 and traditionally follows Thanksgiving.

President Barack Obama and his daughters visited an independent book shop on Small Business Saturday.

US figures suggest US consumers aware of the promotion, which is heavily plugged in social media and enjoys celebrity support, spent £3.4bn in small shops on the day this year.

In the UK a similar idea, on a smaller scale, has seen a day dedicated to encouraging people to use their local record store.

Mr Umunna said: "We must do more to celebrate the contribution local, small independent businesses make to our economy and encourage people to buy from them.

"Establishing a Small Business Saturday in the UK, a concept which has enjoyed considerable success in the US, would provide a small but simple and effective way to celebrate local small businesses and encourage more people to buy from them on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

"A Small Business Saturday in the UK is something all local authorities, whatever their political persuasion, could support and promote."

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it would consider the idea, but stressed the action already being taken to support independent traders in England.

Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said: "We're determined to offer practical support to our High Streets, which is why we've doubled the amount of small business rate relief to new and smaller shops.

"This is one part of a multimillion-pound package of support to Town Teams and Portas Pilots up and down the country, including mentoring from retail experts and workshops to address the challenges they face.

"And for budding entrepreneurs, we're providing over £80m of start-up loans for young people starting their own businesses."

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