Expect several small businesses to embolden their holiday sales efforts with aggressive marketing plans this season. Constant Contact’s Annual Small Business Holiday Outlook surveyed over 2,000 small businesses from late September through October and found that 76 percent are planning holiday promotions and last minute shopping offers, up from 62 percent in 2007. In addition, the survey found that 53 percent will begin marketing earlier this year.
Sixty-three percent of businesses surveyed have already begun their holiday marketing campaigns, hoping to attract customers to shop early by focusing on a combination of promotional and last minute shopping offers. E-mail marketing, favored by 60 percent of respondents, remains the most relied upon method of small businesses to reach consumers. Additionally, 41 percent identified email marketing as having the greatest impact on holiday sales followed by both direct mail and advertising, which garnered just 11 percent each.
No matter how effective some of these methods may be, however, several businesses are not anticipating an impressive holiday season of sales. Only 25 percent of respondents rate their level of confidence in the economy as “excellent” or “good” versus 54 percent in 2007, and 86 percent of are concerned that the economy will harm their holiday sales. Only 33 percent anticipate strong holiday sales this year, which is down considerably from last year’s 63 percent. This number does not include the 41 percent who are unsure what to expect, further illustrating the uncertainty small businesses are facing over the coming months.
Such economic concerns are impacting seasonal hiring plans. Just 16 percent plan to add seasonal staff to meet holiday demands, a decrease of three percentage points from last year.
The 2008 U.S. Small Business Holiday Outlook survey was conducted through targeted online distribution to U.S. small business owners, who are current customers of Constant Contact.