AmEx to Push for More Small Business Activity During Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season is right around the corner – some consumers are even getting a jump on their efforts – and many small businesses across the country have already fully prepared for the big sales weeks they typically experience at this time. Now, however, one of the nation's largest credit card lenders is looking to help encourage more activity.

Small Business Saturday is perhaps currently the less-known cousin of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but American Express is now working to change that with a new effort to promote the event and, potentially, encourage more consumers to visit their local independent retailers in the coming weeks, according to a report from the Associated Press. That includes giving consumers a $10 credit when they make purchases using their AmEx cards at small businesses on that day, whether they choose to pay with the account at a retailer, restaurant, or service provider.

"We're trying to make the program, while it's run on a national scale, feel very relevant at a local and neighborhood level," Susan Sobbott, the head of American Express's Open small business arm, told the news organization. "We've created a program what we call an ambassador program. We've recruited leaders around the country to organize a bunch of retailers, or work with their chamber of commerce to have specific events of their own. We have over 1,000 communities that have enrolled."

However, it's important to note that the lender used to provide a $25 credit, but says its internal research shows that a larger number of consumers are more likely to participate if the credit is $10 rather than the previous amount, the report said. It further says the size of the discount itself doesn't matter, because there's no real difference between consumers' willingness to take advantage of a deal worth $10 or $25.

Owners that are now prepping for the holidays and the end of the calendar year may also want to consider the ways in which they are approaching their other expenses. That might include reassessing their small business insurance needs, as many may be carrying policies that are more expensive than they need to be. Cutting costs for workers' compensation or liability insurance, for instance, could save companies thousands of dollars every year that could serve to significantly improve their ongoing financial standings.