SOURCE: Manta

Manta

November 01, 2011 09:00 ET

'Tis the Season for Shopping Local: Mom-and-Pop Retailers Hopeful About Holiday Sales

New Manta Survey Reveals Half of Small Retailers Are More Optimistic About Holiday Sales This Year Compared to Last Year

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwire - Nov 1, 2011) - As big-box retailers like Wal-Mart reinstate layaway payment plans to combat an expected drop in holidays sales, nearly half of small retailers (49 percent) say they are more optimistic about holiday sales this year versus 2010, according to a new survey from Manta, the largest online SMB community. The survey of nearly 800 small retailers, most with fewer than 10 employees, also revealed that four in 10 are heading into the busiest shopping season of the year with better sales than they had last year.

"We're impacted by the economy just like everyone else; however, now more than ever, the consumers in our community really seem to understand the value of shopping locally. We are hopeful this trend will continue through the upcoming holiday season and beyond," said Jodi Black, president and co-owner of Beautiful Brains Books and Games, a Conover, N.C. store focused on tabletop role-playing game books.

Small retailers have more competition than ever before -- from discount stores, big name retailers and other online retailers. That's why three in four mom-and-pop retailers say they focus on providing stellar customer service to differentiate themselves from competitors. Surprisingly, 75 percent say they'll also leverage social media tools to promote their holiday offerings this year.

"Like big retailers, we see the value in leveraging social media to reach people in new ways this holiday season," said Joseph E. Nerkowski, owner of Holiday Lighting, Inc., an Ulby, Mich. retailer specializing in outdoor decorative lighting for homes and commercial property. "As a small retailer, we're forced to do a lot with a little, and that's why online tools like Manta are also so critical to our continued success."

Pamela Springer, president and CEO of Manta, said: "Manta is committed to helping small businesses improve their online presence and connect with customers, prospects and each other in new ways. During the holiday season especially, small retailers need to leverage online tools and the collective expertise of the greater SMB community to help them reach new markets. Small businesses are the growth engine for the national economy, so it's essential they have tools that foster their success now and throughout the year."

Unfortunately, retailers' optimism for the holidays isn't translating into jobs. An overwhelming majority (86 percent) doesn't plan to hire additional holiday staff; half say it's because they don't need the help and one-third because they can't afford it.

As a small business expert, Manta knows shopping local does more than just help small retailers. It fuels the local economy. Here are a few other benefits of shopping local this holiday season:

1. Better Customer Service: "As a local retailer, we get to know the customers and community we're serving. Providing stellar customer service is the way we set ourselves apart from the pack, and in the end it's our customers who benefit from a better experience," said Black of Beautiful Brains Books and Games.

2. Improve the Community: Buying local has positive long-term benefits because a higher percentage of money stays in the community. This enables cities to afford civic improvements, better support schools and revitalize business districts.

3. Support Local Charities: According to Nerkowski of Holiday Lighting, Inc., "As a local business owner, we support every aspect of the community, including giving back to local charities and organizations. When people shop at our store, they're not just helping us; they're also helping people in need in their own backyard."

4. Local Shopping Supports Local Hiring: According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses accounted for 64 percent of net new job creation in the past 15 years, so shopping local supports hiring in local communities, too.

5. Be Green in Every Aspect: The impact on the environment is reduced because local retailers make more local purchases, which require less transportation, contributing less to congestion and pollution.

Manta is also a supporter of American Express Small Business Saturday®, a day dedicated to supporting and promoting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. For more information, visit www.manta.com.

About the Survey
Manta conducted this study from September 30, 2011 to October 13, 2011 via an online Zoomerang survey of 792 retail small business owners, who are members of Manta.com and have claimed their Manta business profile. The margin of error is 3.45 percentage points. For the full report or additional information about the findings, please contact manta (at) bordersgratehouse (dot) com. To access the full survey results, go to http://www.manta.com/small-business/holiday_shopping_survey1111.

About Manta
Manta helps small businesses profit, connect and grow through the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business. Millions of people come to Manta each day to buy from, partner with and connect to companies. By joining Manta, small businesses easily harness the power of the Internet. Get visible; grow your business for free at www.manta.com.

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