Calls to adopt 'Small Business Saturday' to UK high streets

Labour is calling for a US-style 'Small Business Saturday' to encourage consumers to shop at small, local independent shops in the UK. 

The initiative, suggested by shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, has already proved successful in the US and comes as figures from the British Retail Consortium this week revealed that online shopping has overtaken the high street in both visitor numbers and sales.

Small Business Saturday has taken place in the US since 2010, falling on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving - one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Consumers aware of the initiative, which is promoted via social media sites and celebrity endorsement, spent a total of £3.4 billion on the day in 2012. 

This side of the Atlantic, Small Business Saturday has been suggested for the 7 December to coincide with the Christmas shopping rush.

Chuka Umunna said more must be done to celebrate the contribution small businesses make to the UK economy and encourage more people to shop at them: "Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, play a hugely important role in our communities and add to the unique character of each locality."

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

The continuing rise in online shopping, supermarket competition and the wider economic crisis have all affected small retail confidence, according to the Association of Convenience Stores, which said a quarter of its members expects sales to fall in 2013.

Mr. Umunna has already met with the US Small Business Administration - the body responsible for promoting the initiative in the US - and written to American Express - who conceived the original concept - to see if the initiative could be extended to the UK.