Independent retailers took advantage of Small Business Saturday to engage with new customers as well as suppliers and MPs, with one retailer enjoying a 70%-plus sales boost.

The inaugural event to promote small businesses on 7 December was spearheaded by Labour’s shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, following the success of Small Business Saturday in the US.

Budgens Whitstable retailer Binny Amin invited local suppliers to the shop to showcase their products and cook in store. “There were a lot of new faces because we’d spent lots of time marketing the day online, and people wanted to show their support for us. The staff really enjoyed being able to talk to the suppliers as well,” he said.

Binny said sales were up 73% on the day, and 8% throughout the preceding week, while there was a “20% increase in new faces” on Saturday.

“New customers were coming in from five to six miles away and I’m confident they’ll keep coming now. It was a really positive day for everyone.”

South East London retailer Amit Patel, of Belvedere Food & Wine, said the day provided an excellent opportunity to talk to his local MP Teresa Pearce. “She came to the shop and I had a 20 minute chat with her and I really think she understand the challenges we face. She asked me to contact her if I had any problems in the future.”

Dennis and Linda Williams of Premier Broadway, Edinburgh, held a wine tasting event on Friday evening, including product tastings of new Booker lines, and a porridge day on Saturday. “Both events went down very well,” Dennis said. “But not enough people know about Small Business Saturday. The media needs to do more to promote it.”   

But Harj Dhasee, of Nisa Mickleton, Gloucestershire, said he turned over an extra £1,000 on Saturday without even promoting the occasion. “Next year I’ll definitely promote it beforehand!”