October 21, 2014

Santa or Scrooge: The Pulse of Small Businesses This Holiday Season

Whether a small business is generous or a little penny pinching during the holidays usually depends a lot on how well the company did for the year. If you had a great year, it’s easy to get in the holiday spirit and give clients and employees gifts. But if you didn’t fare as well as you projected for the year, it might be more difficult to appear generous when everyone else is in the giving mood.

office party

American Express OPEN reports each year on where business owners are in terms of gift giving, employee bonuses and holiday parties. In the 2012 Small Business Holiday Monitor, we see that small businesses want to show their appreciation of employees and clients, even if they don’t have large budgets.

Showing Appreciation to Employees

The majority of businesses surveyed plan to acknowledge their employees in some way at the end of the year. The good news for employees is that 35% of small business owners plan to give an end-of-year bonus, up from 29% in 2011. But even if you can’t afford to give each of your staff a bonus, there are plenty of other ways to show your appreciation:

  • Employee gifts
  • Holiday party
  • Group activity
  • Time off
  • Gift cards

The purpose in using any of these techniques is to let your staff know that you recognize the hard work they put in for your company. Sure, they would all love to get a $5,000 bonus at year end, but if it’s not in the budget, they’ll understand.

Budgeting for Client Gifts

Another component of the holiday season is often giving client gifts. Small business owners are spending slightly more this year than in the past: last year 43% of small business owners bought their customers gifts, spending an average of $827, while this year, 51% of small business owners will spend about $958 on gifts for their clients.

Interestingly, the highest budget that the Small Business Holiday Monitor recorded for client gift spending was in 2007, when the average was $1,483. It’s clear the recession has had an effect on this budget ever since.

Celebrations and Donations

For small business owners that identified more as a “Santa” rather than a “Scrooge” when it comes to generosity this holiday season, more will be hosting holiday parties, though spending slightly less than in the past. More than half of entrepreneurs will donate to a charity this year, through monetary donations, in-kind contributions or time donations.

Whatever your budget, find ways to show your appreciation of both your staff and your clients. Even something as simple as a holiday card can be enough to show your gratitude, and hosting a staff potluck can be a cost-effective way to add a little festivity to your office.

Office Party Photo via Shutterstock

1 Comment ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

One Reaction

  1. Heart felt appreciation doesn’t cost a thing. Give it liberally.

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