Small businesses won’t cut back on holiday customer gifts

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Small businesses don’t plan to cut back on holiday customer gifts this season.

According to an American Express survey, 44 percent of small business owners will be giving their customers gifts this holiday season. The mean price of those gifts, $740, is up 61 percent from last year’s price of $455.

Only 25 percent of small business owners, however, plan on giving employees end-of-year bonuses — down from 31 percent in 2009. Even less, 14 percent, plan on giving employees raises.

The number of business planning holiday parties is also down, although holiday spirit is up. In 2009, 38 percent said a top reason for recognizing the holiday season was, “I like to celebrate the season.” This year, that number jumped to 62 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of small business owners plan to use tactics, such as discounts on products and services, to boost sales during the holidays. However, only 25 percent go into holiday mode before Halloween. Almost half of the holiday discounts occur after Thanksgiving.

The telephone survey, the American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Monitor, used a random sample of small business owners and managers of companies with fewer than 1,00 employees.

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