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It should come as no surprise that the end of the year is make-or-break for many retailers. If there were doubts about just how important Black Friday and the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are, new research should dismiss them.

The data science team at Womply, a small business software company, analyzed transaction data from thousands of small, independent retailers in all 50 states during the 2017 holiday season.

Here are key findings about South Carolina:

• Black Friday isn’t just a boon for big-box and e-retailers. It’s also the No. 3 sales day of the year for small businesses, with S.C. retailers seeing a 74 percent increase in sales over the average day.

• All of the top 5 sales days of the year come between Black Friday and the last Saturday before Christmas.

• Two of the top 3 revenue weeks of the year are the last two full business weeks before the week of Christmas. (The third best revenue week is in May).

So what about Small Business Saturday on the day after Black Friday, and Cyber Monday two days later?

Cyber Monday, according to Womply, was the 98th best revenue day in 2017 for South Carolina businesses. Revenue averaged $1,222. Compare that to $1,919 on Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday’s numbers have yet to reach full potential, with the day ranking 160th in revenue. Maybe it’s the shopping hangover after Black Friday or the sales and deals don’t seem as sweet a day later.

But this is no time to give up on Small Business Saturday. It may still be “small” compared to Black Friday, but it grows by the year as it is embraced by merchants of all kinds -- from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to service providers to e-commerce businesses. And as consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, they are prioritizing small businesses – even those online.

The National Federation of Independent Business offers insight on how more merchants could take advantage of the day:

• Stay on top of your social media. If you're on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest, post often and promote any Small Business Saturday deals. Use the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat so shoppers can find you easily.

• Showcase the merchandise that would make a great gift. Group items on a table with a sign saying it would be the perfect gift for dad or a great gift for the grandparents. Restaurants can offer Small Business Saturday specials and gift cards.

• Steal a page from the Black Friday playbook and offer doorbusters. Chain stores know a great way to drive shoppers to their stores is by offering special deals at different times of the day. There's no reason a small business can't do the same thing.

• Partner with nearby businesses. Pool your resources to buy advertising promoting the neighborhood as a shopping destination or team up with other businesses on in-store promotions. For example, if they buy a pair of shoes here, let them know they can save 10 percent on socks next door.

• Don’t forget to tell your regular customers about Small Business Saturday. Put a sign in your shop and flyers in bags reminding folks to come back the Saturday after Thanksgiving for special deals.

Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities. Consider doing your holiday shopping this year by making a point of supporting small, local businesses on Small Business Saturday and beyond. You’ll be in good company.

Inside today’s T&D you’ll find a Small Business Saturday special section.

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