Tony McGinn

SMDP Intern

The holiday shopping season is here, and Nov. 30 is Small Business Saturday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The Montana Avenue Merchants Association, in conjunction with Buy Local Santa Monica, has organized a street-wide sidewalk sale event from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., featuring 11 blocks of businesses, between 7th Avenue to 17th Street.

Kara Taub, the chair of the Montana Avenue Merchants Association, says that the sidewalk sale is estimated to draw 800 to 1,000 shoppers. The sidewalk sale has been held for the last six-year, beginning in 2013. According to Taub, Montana Ave. is the only shopping district in Santa Monica that hosts a street-wide event for Small Business Saturday. She adds that as much as 70 cents of each dollar spent locally will stay within the community.

Small Business Saturday kicks off the ‘Tis the Season to Buy Local Holiday campaign in Santa Monica, which runs through the end of the year.

Taking place less than four weeks before Christmas, Small Business Saturday is designed to showcase local and independently owned businesses, such as those that line Montana Avenue and the Third Street Promenade. First organized by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday was created in response to Cyber Monday, a shopping holiday following Black Friday, first begun in 2005. Small Business Saturday has been readily embraced by small businesses eager to participate in the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping rush.

One of the participating businesses, Jane of Tarzana, has been on Montana Avenue for 11 years. Jane is running a grand promotion the same weekend to celebrate the anniversary of Jane’s opening, which coincides with Small Business Saturday.

While small, independent businesses benefit from both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, they still have to contend with the e-commerce competition from Cyber Monday.

Chris Tilly, Director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, describes e-commerce as an “endless aisle” not limited by physical store space.

When asked about Small Business Saturday, he said, “there’s a limit to how far this can go. But there’s still a reason to get out there … It’s good to remind people about local business, to make a moral and social appeal.”

Most shoppers consider price, convenience, and quality when purchasing goods, Tilly said. Small Business Saturday offers a fourth metric for shopping success: an experience.

“All the retail consultants have said you have to offer consumers an experience,” Tilly said. “Sidewalk sales are different, festive… a community event. Experiential retail is not just about getting goods but about [having] a community experience. Montana Avenue is well-suited to it as a location; you can grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee.”

Likewise, the Third Street Promenade is uniquely adapted to give holiday shoppers a community experience, with dining, shopping, and festive decorations lining the wide pedestrian walkways.

“We have the technology to count the number of people walking through the promenade, reflected in what we call impressions … and last year’s Black Friday pedestrian traffic hit 124,445 impressions,” said Kevin Herrera, a Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. spokesperson.

As for how much was spent, during the month of November last year, the fourth quarter tax revenue for the Promenade was $122 million.

Seasonal economic growth is expected to continue. The National Retail Federation forecasts 2019 sales to increase between 3.8 and 4.4 percent nationwide.

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