Small business owners are anticipating a jolly holiday shopping season this year.
A survey of more than 1,200 of its members by the small business online technology platform Manta found that 67 percent are already experiencing steady or improved sales and 71 percent feel optimistic 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).
The improved sales outlook hasn’t impacted holiday hiring, however. As with the 2013 holiday season, fewer than 20 percent of small businesses will hire seasonal employees this year.
Among other holiday-related data from the survey of small business owners:
Gifts they’ll give: 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 the Midwest is the most philanthropic region of the U.S., where 79 percent of those surveyed plan to give back.
Gifts they want: 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:
1. New computer
2. Ad space/free advertising
3. Access to a social media guru
4. New clients or customers
5. Money or a gift certificate that can be used for business purposes
6. Branding advice
7. An introduction to new employees
10. SEO advice
Access the full survey results at the Manta website.