Big-box merchants such as Macy’s, Target and Walmart are already firing on all cylinders in the race to grab the biggest piece of the holiday pie, but small business owners aren’t bothered.
In fact, according to ShopKeep’s recently released third-quarter Small Business Index, most independent retailers don’t consider mass-market stores as competition.
After surveying 836 small business owners—62 percent of whom were retailers—the cloud-based POS provider discovered that, despite some analysts predicting the weakest holiday sales since the recession, 76 percent are optimistic about the upcoming season.
And their confidence is growing: For last year’s index, 70 percent said they were hopeful.
Furthermore, among the group of retailers, 71 percent deem their main competitors to be other local business, followed by Amazon (13 percent), Walmart (6 percent) and Target (4 percent).
“I think it really speaks to the mindset of small businesses,” said Norm Merritt, president and CEO of ShopKeep. “They think of the guy across the street that has a sale sign up as competition, not necessarily the big store 50 miles away.”
Another cause for concern: inclement weather, something that has impacted small retailers’ day-to-day bottom line in recent years.
As a precaution in case something similar happens in 2015, 73 percent of respondents said they won’t be hiring seasonal employees, while 30 percent plan to close on major holidays, including Black Friday. Moreover, only 27 percent plan to extend their opening hours during the season and 48 percent said they won’t consider it.
“The holiday period is really important to small business owners but there is an increase in cost when hiring seasonal employees, especially with the increase in minimum wage,” Merritt pointed out, noting that instead of taking on extra workers or staying open later, small retailers are choosing to compete on customer service.
“They are figuring out that if they can be folksier, more aware of the individual, recognize their face and gather e-mail addresses by offering e-mail receipts, they’ll create a relationship that’s much more built on loyalty,” Merritt added.
He concluded, “Despite the myriad of issues, it’s reassuring to see merchants continue to be very optimistic. At ShopKeep our goal is to help merchants run smarter businesses and ultimately make the optimism about the holiday season a reality.”