Four out of five small business in the Washington area do not have plans to hire in the next six months, according to a quarterly survey by Capital One.
Nationally, small businesses — defined as those with less than $10 million in revenue — were more optimistic: 30 percent said they would likely add workers by the end of the year.
“While many small businesses have seen an uptick in sales over the past six months, this is not necessarily translating into significant new hires or investments,” said Jon Witter, president of small-business banking for McLean-based Capital One.
Ruth Sutton, who owns Curvy Girls Bridal in Fairfax, says shoppers are willing to spend more these days — $2,000 to $3,000 for a wedding dress, compared with less than $1,000 during the recession. Even so, she’s not too optimistic just yet.
“I’m right on the middle of the fence here,” she said. “It’s almost like all we can do is wait and see.”
Sutton added she might add staffers if business picks up in late December.
“Hiring employees is a big investment and I think all sizes of companies are very cautious about bringing people in,” said Tony Pica, Northern Virginia market president for Capital One, adding that factors such as sequestration might have factored into local results.
The survey was based on phone questionnaires conducted by Braun Research. The Princeton-based research firm interviewed a nationally-representative sample of 1,906 for-profit small businesses, including 503 from the Washington area.
At District-based Whisked, which sells pies and cakes, owner Jenna Huntsberger said she was feeling good enough about the economy to make plans to hire a third employee soon.
“Demand is growing, we have a third market in Glover Park, things are just going really well — and that makes me think the economy is, too,” she said.