Northern Ireland’s small businesses contributed a huge £44 billion to the economy this year, according to new Government figures. The latest business population statistics, released on Thursday by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, show there’s now a record 132,000 smaller businesses in Northern Ireland. To celebrate the big impact small firms have on the economy, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging people to get out this weekend to support local firms on Small Business Saturday (December 2). The campaign, now in its fifth year, shines a light on the diverse range of brilliant small firms across the country. Small businesses are vital to local communities and now it’s your opportunity to show support by shopping small this weekend. FSB research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-size business, 63 per cent is re-spent in the local area- compared to 40p in every £1 spent with a chain or larger business. Last year customers spent £717m with UK small businesses on Small Business Saturday, an increase of 15% on 2015 spending. Of course, the campaign is not just about retail. Small companies play a huge role throughout the supply chain and in every single sector of the economy. So this week, why not show your local small business community some love. John Friel, FSB NI Regional Chair, said: “It’s the fifth year of Small Business Saturday, and it’s great the campaign has been so successful in highlighting and promoting the now record number of 132,000 small businesses working hard across Northern Ireland. “Many of them are facing mounting pressure, with a record proportion of business owners currently expecting to downsize, sell or shut up shop. “Of course, it’s important to support these businesses throughout the year and, particularly as the festive season draws closer, Small Business Saturday is a great way to encourage shoppers to back their local small firms. “There’s been a great build up to the day so far with daily celebrations of the Small Biz 100, which included many of our members. FSB has long supported the initiative and the important work it does to highlight the hard-working small businesses, and we hope even more people get behind the event this year.” Director of Small Business Saturday, Michelle Ovens, said: “Small Business Saturday has become the biggest celebration of small businesses across the UK. This Saturday will be a huge opportunity for communities to show their support for these businesses that play such a critical role. “Our research shows over 90 per cent of small businesses believe they have an important role to play in their community - so let's make sure we have their backs this weekend. "FSB members up and down the UK have supported Small Business Saturday since year one. The support has been incredibly important, bringing local engagement, expertise and endless enthusiasm to the campaign - a huge thanks to FSB for being part of the team."