Office Depot Small Business Index Reveals 2011 Expectations for Business Growth

small business

Boca Raton, Florida (PRESS RELEASE – March 20, 2011) – Office Depot (NYSE: ODP), celebrating 25 years as a leading global provider of office supplies and services, announced the results of its latest Office Depot Small Business Index – a monthly survey commissioned to gauge the economic trends of small businesses in America.

According to the February edition of the Office Depot Small Business Index, there is a new positive outlook with more small businesses anticipating higher company sales, profits and capital spending. However, America’s small business community remains concerned about their finances, believing that interest rates from banks/savings accounts, CDs, etc. will increase, and expect rates in loans to increase as well.

Small- and medium-sized businesses expressed a positive view on the economy with better than half (56 percent) expecting it to improve and most anticipating an increase in their company’s sales and profits (70 and 67 percent, respectively). A majority of the respondents (80 percent) remained concerned about inflation and the difficulty in obtaining bank loans and financing (74 percent) this year. Hiring expectations continue to be weak, as eight in ten of the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) surveyed do not anticipate adding staff in the next six months.

“Small businesses remain the lifeblood of the economy, and while our survey shows that many are predicting growth this year, we continue to see them raise concerns about the costs of doing business,” said Neil Austrian, Interim Chairman and CEO for Office Depot. “That is why Office Depot remains so focused on doing everything we can to help this segment succeed by providing the right products and services tailored to their everyday business needs.”

With tax day, April 18, approaching, Office Depot asked small businesses how they prepared for this critical business event and what issues they face.

Some of the findings included:

Most companies do not wait until the last minute to file, with 82 percent submitting their taxes by the end of March. However, polarization exists in terms of how taxes are done, with about half doing them in-house and half outsourcing. The vast majority of the small- and medium-sized businesses submit their taxes electronically.

While most of the SMBs believe that they’ve maxed out the refund they can expect, over 4 in 10 do not anticipate getting any money back this year.

When asked about their knowledge of the tax code, fewer than half are aware of their state’s tax changes, while capital gains is the area that generates the most confusion – twice as high as healthcare and about 4 times greater than either real estate or 401K plans.

Survey Methodology/Sample Qualifications

Interviews are conducted via the Internet among a nationally representative sample of small- and medium-sized businesses. The February wave of interviewing was conducted from February 9, 2010 to December 16, 2010 among a total of 1,001 small- and medium-sized businesses. Interviewing will be conducted on a monthly basis in order to track shifts that occur over time.

About Office Depot

Celebrating 25 years as a leading global provider of office supplies and services, Office Depot is Taking Care of Business for millions of customers around the globe. For the local corner store as well as Fortune 500 companies, Office Depot provides supplies and services to its customers through 1,602 worldwide retail stores, a dedicated sales force, top-rated catalogs and a $4.1 billion e-commerce operation. Office Depot has annual sales of approximately $11.6 billion, and employs about 40,000 associates around the world. The Company provides more office supplies and services to more customers in more countries than any other company, and currently sells to customers directly or through affiliates in 53 countries.

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