Another Small Business Saturday has wrapped up, and reports indicate Oklahomans spent much of their time dining out during the national shop-local day.

Created by American Express in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, Small Business Saturday is held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

As the official shop-local day closed out its eighth year last weekend, shoppers provided an encouraging boost to small businesses at the start to the holiday shopping season.

“Year after year, Small Business Saturday receives remarkable support from shoppers and communities nationwide,” Elizabeth Rutledge, executive vice president, Global Advertising & Brand Management at American Express, said. “It’s encouraging to see Small Business Saturday continue to gain momentum as more people recognize the benefits that independently-owned businesses bring to their neighborhoods — and our country as a whole.”

In Oklahoma, excitement was particularly strong and restaurants stood out as the type of business visited most on Small Business Saturday compared to the national average.

Across the board, restaurants were by far the big favorite among shoppers in the state. Restaurants/bars/pubs ranked on top in all the categories: most popular place to shop; state standout; favorite purchase; most-associated business in community; what residents wish there were more of in the community; and where residents would most choose to take their out-of-town guests.

The survey reported that on Small Business Saturday, 45 percent of Oklahomans frequented restaurants/bars/pubs; 25 percent shopped at clothing and accessories stores; 23 percent spent money at grocery stores/supermarkets and 20 percent shopped at gift/novelties/souvenirs stores.

The data showed reasons to celebrate the day were categorized by 64 percent who said they enjoyed supporting the local community; 49 percent said staff and/or owners at independently-owned businesses often provide better customer service; 31 percent said shopping and dining at independently-owned businesses is convenient; and 27 percent said independent businesses often have a better selection.

At the local level, Small Business Saturday is fueled each year by grassroots activities organized by Neighborhood Champions — small businesses, business associations, local Chambers of Commerce, and other community organizers that rally their communities to celebrate the shopping day. This year, more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions (a 7-percent increase from 2016) across all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and some U.S. territories — engaging an estimated 2.2 million small businesses — celebrated Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25, showing their love and appreciation for small businesses.

Among those who were aware and who planned to shop on Small Business Saturday this year, 65 percent said the main reason they support local, independently-owned retailers and restaurants is because they value the contributions small businesses make to their community.

This is good news for communities throughout the state.

Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities, NFIB CEO and president Juanita Duggan said.

Shawnee City Manager Justin Erickson said shopping locally supports local merchants and employees and supports important municipal and county services through the sales tax collected.

“In addition, the educational sales tax that was approved one year ago is providing critical funding to our schools, which further strengthens every community in Pottawatomie County,” he said.

According to data from the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released this week by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses.

“Small Business Saturday has become an incredibly important day for small businesses across the nation,” Duggan said. “We are very proud to be a part of this program and to be able to show how valuable small businesses are to local communities, whether on Main Street or online.”

The day is embraced by independent merchants of all kinds — from traditional brick and mortar retailers to service providers to e-commerce businesses. And as consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, they are prioritizing small businesses — even those online: the report found that 59 percent of consumers said they were likely to seek out a small, independently-owned retailer when shopping online on Small Business Saturday.

“Small Business Saturday provides people an opportunity to discover and celebrate the variety of small businesses that make their communities thrive,” Rutledge said. “Beyond visiting their favorite go-to spots, shoppers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to visit places they have not been to before and would not have otherwise tried.”