This time last year, America’s small businesses weren’t exactly preparing for the most wonderful time of the year. The government had recently shut down, consumer confidence was lagging — even the calendar presented problems, dishing up the shortest holiday shopping season in more than a decade.
The mood is decidedly more merry on Main Street during this year’s holiday season. Of course, it helps that the National Retail Federation is predicting a healthy 4.1 percent bump in sales this year, up from a 3.1 percent uptick last year.
The question is, can the nation’s smallest retailers get their hands on a not-so-small share of that spending? Many like their chances, based on the latest polling from research groups and small business organizations. Here’s a sampling:
• Nearly half of small business owners expect this year’s holiday sales to top last year’s results, while a quarter expect sales to hold steady, according to a recent survey from Capital One. Heading into the new year, half say they feel good about the direction of the national economy, while even more, 62 percent, are optimistic about their local economies. Seven in 10 believe their companies’ sales will increase next year.
• American Express showed similar results in its annual Small Business Holiday Monitor, reporting that 47 percent of small retailers anticipate stronger sales this holiday season than last — up from 30 percent who said the same this time last year. Additionally, the number of small employers planning to give their staffs bonuses and their clients gifts have both increased markedly this year.
• Twice as many business owners expect an increase in sales this holiday season as expect a decrease in sales, according to a poll by online small-business community Manta. Three-fourths plan to contribute to a charity in the coming weeks, including through toy and clothing drives, community service or cash donations.
• Analysts expect this to be another big year for e-commerce, and small retailers will likely be no exception. Volusion, a business software provider, has predicted a 9 percent bump in online holiday sales for small and medium-size businesses, with an increasingly large share of that coming from shoppers using mobile devices.
• It’s the youngest business owners who appear to be the most merry. A Bank of America poll released earlier this month showed that 78 percent of millennial and 71 percent of Generation X entrepreneurs believe their revenues will increase next year, well above the 52 percent of Baby Boomer business owners who expect a bump in the coming year.