American Express has launched its Shop Small initiative to support Australian small businesses as internal research shows consumer confidence slowly increasing from extremely low levels.
Small businesses are facing a number of challenges, namely a lack of foot traffic and a public struggling with confidence to enter physical stores. According to a report from American Express, 33% of shoppers say they’re comfortable with entering a physical store, while 22% said they will only return once active COVID-19 cases reach zero in their state.
A further 15% said they’ll be comfortable enough to shop in a brick-and-mortar store when there are no active cases nationwide.
In light of this, Amex has brought back its Shop Small program, which encourages card holders to spend money with small, family-owned businesses to be eligible for cashback benefits.
The program was initially slated for release later this year, however, current circumstances has led Amex to accelerate the roll-out to encourage economic growth in the SME sector.
“State restrictions are easing and it’s encouraging to see the progress we’re making as a country,” said Corrina Davison, Managing Director of American Express Australia. “While people are starting to head out again, small businesses still face the challenge of getting customers to return to the levels they need.”
“We’re bringing back Shop Small early this year to encourage shoppers to support the nation’s resilient small business operators and accelerate their recovery,” she said.
2020 marks the eighth-time Amex has run the campaign, which Davison says will benefit small business operators the most with its cash back benefits. Amex has, to date, handed out just under $20 million in cashback benefits to cardholders, and says between 2013 and 2019 has contributed $4 billion to small businesses during its Shop Small initiative.
Internal research suggests that as many as 80% of consumers hold significant concerns about health and safety while shopping.
“American Express will fund the largest cashback offer in the history of the movement in Australia to do what we can to help small businesses recover after what has been, for many, the most challenging year they have ever faced,” Davison added.
“As the nation takes important steps on the road to recovery and more businesses reopen, we’re encouraging all Australians to recognise the critical role they play in helping the businesses at the heart of our local communities by Shopping Small.”
Just yesterday, we reported on the ‘Buy From the Bush’ campaign, which organisers say has delivered $5 million in extra revenue to nearly 300 regional small businesses. A report commissioned by the organisation says that small businesses saw their revenue jump by 300%, while nano-businesses – operations with less than $5,000 turnover per month – saw their revenue increase by as much as 750%.
Of these small businesses, 38% were shipping orders inter-state for the first time, 19% recorded their first-ever international sales, and 20% were able to add employees to their books.
Kate Carnell, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has said that this is a particularly difficult time for small businesses, and welcomed any initiative that increases potential sales.
“While it’s encouraging to see so many small businesses confident they can survive this crisis, they will face enormous challenges over the coming months as they work to get back on their feet,” she said.
“What small businesses need right now is our support,” she added. “The best way to do that is by visiting your local small businesses or shopping online for local products and services. Every dollar spent not only goes to that small business, but to the community as well,” she concluded.