As another holiday shopping season approaches, a new Manta small business study reveals that 67 percent of 1,268 respondents are already experiencing steady or improved sales. Optimism shines brightly with 71 percent of small businesses feeling positive about upcoming holiday sales. Small business owners in the South are the most optimistic in the nation when it comes to holiday sales this year (75 percent). However, the increase in sales and optimism hasn’t impacted holiday hiring, as 82 percent of those surveyed will not be hiring seasonal employees this year, which is consistent with last year’s findings.
PayPal Set to Surpass Visa/MasterCard as Biggest Supporter of Small BusinessesAs more small business owners adopt payment technologies to alleviate cash flow issues, survey respondents ranked Visa/MasterCard as the top payment brand most supportive of small business (29 percent). PayPal (23 percent) and Square (16 percent) ranked second and third respectively, with American Express ranking fourth (5 percent). PayPal and Square’s prominent rankings could indicate a shift toward mobile payment brands is underway in the small business community, as together they represent 39 percent, indicating one or both brands could displace Visa/MasterCard in the coming years. Some reasons driving this shift are convenience and simplicity.
“I use Square because of the ease of use—even when I don’t remember my attachment, I can take down credit card information and complete a payment. Square also helps keep me organized,” said Manta community member Bridgett S. Joe, owner of S. Charles PR in Houston Texas.
Meanwhile, big brands, such as Google, Amazon and Apple all have a long way to go to win the loyalty of small business owners. While Apple may be a consumer darling, only 1 percent of respondents feel Apple is supportive of small businesses; this is something that may change with its new Apple Pay offering.
Small Business Generosity Takes on the GrinchThe holiday season is traditionally a time for giving, and small business owners are extremely generous. Manta’s study revealed that 74 percent of respondents plan to give to charity this holiday season. Women are more philanthropic (86 percent) than men (80 percent). Millennials are the most philanthropic as 89 percent plan to give to charity, more than any other generation. And finally, the Midwest is the most philanthropic region of the U.S., where 79 percent of those surveyed plan to give back.
Holiday Business Gifts for Entrepreneurs That Will Keep on GivingWhen asked what they’d most like to receive for their business for the holidays, Manta’s small business community identified five main categories of gifts. In order of popularity, they are: business equipment, money (loans or cash), more business/new clients, marketing and advertising and more/better employees. Across these categories, the top ten holiday wish list items for small businesses are:
- New computer
- Ad space/free advertising
- Access to a social media guru
- New clients or customers
- Money or a gift certificate that can be used for business purposes
- Branding advice
- An introduction to new employees
- SEO advice
But not all the holiday wish list items were serious. A handful of Manta’s survey respondents were more creative with their requests and asked for things such as a mind-reading employee or a clone of themselves to get more work done.
“The latest Manta survey indicates small businesses are expecting increased sales for the upcoming holiday season,” said Manta CEO John Swanciger. “The resilient small business optimism we’ve seen the past few years is finally backed up by real growth prospects. This is great news for all of us since small business trends are indicative of the health of the economy as a whole.”
Holiday Tips and Strategies for Small BusinessManta understands that many small businesses rely on the holiday shopping rush to close their year on a high note. Here are a few tips that are easy to implement and can help increase holiday sales success:
Know Your Customer: Effective marketing begins with knowing and understanding your best customer. From merchandise to promotions, think about what will appeal to your target audience.
Deliver Great Customer Service: As a smaller shop, capitalize on great customer service. You have the ability to provide unique and tailored services for your customers unlike big businesses. Leverage your relationships with your loyal customers and amplify your customer service to draw in new ones.
Give and Grow: Giving back during the holidays not only spreads holiday cheer to others in need, but it can be good for your business, too. Your customers will appreciate that you give back, and a toy or coat drive at your store might be a great additional avenue to get your customers to engage with your business.