Experts predict that this weekend’s Small Business Saturday will mean more than ever this year, having the potential to make or break Denver’s local businesses.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Colorado in March, small businesses have been forced to up public safety expenses while enduring a decrease in business from occupancy limitations and an overall struggling economy.

“This year will set no record for sales. The only measurement … will be to see how many of Colorado’s remaining small businesses can make it through to the end of the year,” said the National Federation of Independent Business.

Small Business Saturday, held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was started in 2010 by American Express to help jumpstart small businesses hurt by the recent recession.

In 2019, Small Business Saturday saw $19.6 billion spent at independent retailers and restaurants nationally. The event outperformed online spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, earning $5.4 and $9.2 billion respectively.

However, as more shoppers turn to large online stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, NFIB expects this year’s turnout to suffer.

“Our country’s Main Street enterprises have their backs to the wall, and it is up to us to rally to their defense,” said Tony Gagliardi, director of NFIB Colorado.

“If everyone buys online from a big retailer, we’ve sealed the fate of small businesses everywhere.”

An August report from the Secretary of State and the University of Colorado found that 8,659 Colorado businesses dissolved in the second quarter of 2020.

Of businesses closed during the pandemic, 60% will remain closed permanently, according to Yelp’s Local Economic Impact Report.

To help local businesses, Gagliardi recommends visiting those that have in-person service, checking for online purchasing options, buying gift cards as presents and ordering takeout and delivery from local restaurants.

“A lot is at stake,” Gagliardi said. “Will we rise to the challenge?”

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