This Saturday, millions of shoppers are expected to flock to businesses in downtowns and local shopping districts across the country — including Wisconsin — to support Small Business Saturday, an event that has grown exponentially since it was created in 2009.

According to the Consumer Insights Survey, Small Business Saturday in 2016 surpassed both Black Friday and Cyber Monday in terms of total retail sales, with more than $15 billion in consumer spending. While spending declined slightly from the previous year, participation increased 13 percent from 2015 to 2016, with 112 million consumers participating.

The Kauffman Foundation ranks Wisconsin #2 in the nation for Main Street entrepreneurship activity, indicating that Wisconsin offers a plethora of local shopping options. More than 90 percent of businesses are locally owned in Wisconsin’s downtowns. Shopping locally not only supports entrepreneurship, but also ensures that a greater percentage of spending remains in the community, as 68 percent of every dollar spent at a locally owned business is recycled locally. Local spending also helps retain local jobs, support local philanthropy, and ensure that your holiday gifts are truly one-of-a-kind.

The opportunity to celebrate and support local businesses is being embraced by many commercial districts throughout Wisconsin. More than 40 communities that are part of Wisconsin’s Main Street and Connect Communities programs are hosting additional activities and promotions to encourage downtown shoppers to linger longer.

Surveys conducted in various Wisconsin communities during last year’s Small Business Saturday point to the ability of these types of events to not just boost spending on a single day, but to build a lasting relationship with local consumers. Successful events also created a number of additional benefits, such as introducing customers to new businesses within the district, raising awareness of local civic or charitable organizations, and creating the opportunity for residents and visitors to mingle.