According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. small business owners* commissioned by American Express, 92 percent of the owners are expecting holiday sales to be the same or better than last year. Here are some highlights from the survey.

Optimistic holiday sales expectations

55% | Expect same sales as last year
37% | Expect better than last year

Growth a priority for 2016

79% | Small business owners saying growth is a top priority for their business in 2016 (up from 72 percent in August).
86% | Small retailers saying growth is top priority for their business in 2016 (up from 74 percent).

The biggest concern that small business owners reported about growing their businesses during the holidays is balancing their holiday needs with long-range growth plans (19 percent). The chief concerns specifically for retailers involve maintaining appropriate inventory levels (24 percent) and facing pressure to discount or offer costly promotions (21 percent).

Holiday cheer for employees

53% | Small businesses planning to host a holiday party
42% | Plan to give employee gifts
$2,100 | Average budget for holiday party (about same as last year)

Holiday, year-end employee bonuses

50% | Expect to give a bonus equivalent to 5 percent of annual salary
23% | Expect to give a bonus equivalent to 5 percent to 15 percent of salary
22% | Expect to give no bonus
 5% | Expect to give a gift/bonus equivalent more than 15 percent of salary
42% | Bonus is higher than last year
40% | Bonus is not higher than last year

Client Gifts

67% | Small businesses that will spend money on holiday gifts for clients
$5,370 | Average total budget for client/customer gifts

*The American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Growth Pulse is based on an online sample of 1,000 U.S. small business owners/managers of companies with $250,000 or more in revenues and fewer than 100 employees. The anonymous survey was conducted via the Internet by Ebiquity October 7–14, 2015. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95 percent level of confidence.

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