Los Angeles County small business owners are hoping shoppers will make purchases Saturday during Small Business Saturday, one day after the crowds at malls and stores for Black Friday were smaller than in past years.

“It’s important now more than ever to support small businesses because right now, as a community, we are really struggling to make it through every day,” Erin McKenna, owner of Erin McKenna’s Bakery in Larchmont Village, told ABC7.

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 for the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to “Shop Small” and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration became a co-sponsor in 2011.

Small Business Saturday set a record with an estimated $19.8 billion in reported spending in 2020, according to the Small Business Administration. Another record is projected for this year.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell will visit multiple independently owned small businesses in his district in an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of small businesses and the jobs they create.

McKenna told ABC7 many small business owners like herself are spending overtime in their shops to stay afloat.

“Staffing is so short,” McKenna told ABC7. “And as long as we have that revenue coming in, we’re able to cover our bills and hopefully begin to continue to offer our staff more money to stay on board.”

Experts mainly attributed the smaller Black Friday crowds in Los Angeles County to the earlier start of Christmas shopping.

“It seems very much the key driver is that you have a lot of early spending,” Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at the Adobe Digital Insights research firm, told the Los Angeles Times.

While Black Friday is considered the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, it “stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association.

“Consumers are starting earlier than ever to be sure they can get what they want, when they want it, at a price they want to pay,” Shay said.

Other factors for the smaller crowds included online shopping, the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty over the supply chain and rising prices.

Shoppers were pleased by the smaller crowds searching for Black Friday bargains.

“Black Friday used to be like Disneyland, waiting in line 45 minutes to spend money,” Westfield Santa Anita shopper Lawrence Caudillo told The Times. “I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than do that. So this, this is nice. I love when there’s not a lot of people around.”

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