Small businesses predict an increase in holiday sales

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Small business owners are expecting a slight bump in holiday sales this year and about 40 percent of them are expecting the majority of their sales to be done online.

The National Retail Federation is predicting a small increase of 4.1 percent in holiday sales. Meanwhile, about 43 percent of small business owners say they are more optimistic about the coming holiday season than they were at this time last year, according to a new survey from Manta, an online community dedicated to small business.

About 50 percent of small business owners surveyed expect customers to buy directly from the store this holiday season; and 41 percent anticipate the majority of their sales to come from online orders – a 10 percent increase from last year’s results.

“The holiday season can bring both immense pressure and great rewards to local small business owners, so this is the most critical time for them to leverage online tools and the vast expertise of other business owners,” said Pamela Springer, CEO of Manta.

As small businesses predict online sales to increase this year, they are being selective when it comes to the online tools and methods they will adopt this holiday season.  For example, the majority — 82 percent — of small businesses have not, and will not, run promotions with Groupon or other “daily deal” sites this year, according to the Manta survey results. About 3 percent of respondents said these types of promotion sites have brought them repeat business.

Many small businesses run online stores or promotions through sites like Etsy and Facebook. Some small businesses are critical of the sites especially as they relate to support for small businesses, according to the Manta survey.

Other survey results show: about 10 percent of small businesses will hire part-time employees for the holiday season; about 26 percent will advertise on their website and through social media; and about 53 percent say Generation X (ages 32-47) are their most crucial target market; and, about 42 percent of small businesses project to end the year profitable.