Benefit or Bust: How Did International Women’s Day Affect Small Businesses?
On International Women’s Day, March 8th, the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington encouraged women to participate in “A Day Without A Woman”. The intention of the day was to create a concrete vision of what communities, households and the economy would be like if women suddenly took the day off.
To show support, all women were encouraged to:
- Take the day off from all paid and unpaid work
- Wear red to signify love and sacrifice
- Boycott all online and brick and mortar spending with one rather striking exception: any spending was to be focused only on local, small businesses and women-owned businesses that support the cause.
Did Small Businesses Benefit?
According to a report by Womenable, women-owned businesses in the U.S. come in at just over 11.3 million. With numbers like that, the question on everyone’s mind is: what effects, if any, did the call to show consumer support for women in business have?
Uptick in Online Sales
There are signs that some female-run small businesses experienced a small but measureable increase in online sales on women’s day 2017. Refinery 29 checked in with several fashion based NY brands and reported that almost all communicated a significant uptick in online sales, foot traffic and most substantially, those that chose to stay open and show support for the cause experienced a community style engagement with promotions created to complement the occasion.
While this anecdotal information shows that there at least exists a relationship between International Women’s Day and sales, it’s interesting to note that most of the shops contacted decided to participate not by closing down and taking the day off, but by keeping the doors open and expressing solidarity. Many shops cut prices by 20 percent (because 20 percent is the estimated wage gap between men and women) or donated 20 percent of all sales proceeds to an organization that supports women – and the majority launched female-centric campaigns that sparked engagement.
In the US, working women play an essential economic role, the Center for American Progress reports that if all paid working women were to take a day off it would cost the GDP $21 billion. The spirit of the women’s day strike was to demonstrate just how vital women’s paid and unpaid work is to the economy and to society as a whole. Many businesses put their marketing teams to work creating highly impactful and engaging campaigns that resonated strongly with their client base. The hope was to start a conversation that expands and becomes a year-round topic.
Although concrete numbers certainly aren’t in yet, early signs show that there was a noticeable increase in online sales and customer engagement for some small, women-owned businesses. International Women’s Day and ‘A Day Without a Woman’ sought to start a conversation on the role that women play in the national economy. In doing so, it also put the spotlight on women-owned small businesses. As women in business know, increased exposure can only bring positive results.