COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - Oct 28, 2015) - With the hectic holiday season near, a recent Manta poll found that small businesses' seasonal hiring is at a five-year high. Manta's data shows that hiring holiday help is up 5 percentage points from 2013 and 2014, and up 10 percentage points from 2012. This year, 23 percent of small business owners plan on hiring full- or part-time help, which is by far the largest number since the index began in 2011.

And it's no wonder, as 65 percent of small businesses cite winter to be their busiest season. The businesses that will see sales spike during the holidays are food and beverage (41 percent), consumer products (38 percent) and technology and communications (30 percent). But it's not marketing campaigns or steep discounts bringing customers in; it's simply a natural greater demand for the products and services they provide (56 percent).

Winter Lulls SMBs into Investing Back in the Biz
Unfortunately, the holiday sales spike is not universal for small businesses. Small business owners that specialize in business services (44 percent), health care (39 percent) and industrial (36 percent) are those that expect business to slump -- and they are prepared for it.

So, what do they do during the slow winter months? What they do best -- invest back into their business! Sixty percent stay busy by focusing on marketing and networking, website and social media management, and backend operations (HR, accounting, POS systems, etc.). For some, though, it's not all business all the time. The other 40 percent take the time to invest in their personal lives by taking vacations, resting at home, and spending time with family and friends. A slow quarter does not mean a slow year; small businesses that see slow winter sales say their busiest seasons are spring (44 percent), summer (41 percent) and fall (14 percent). 

Regardless of small business owners' forecast for the holiday season, they still have concerns about what could negatively impact their success during these months. While they can't control severe winter weather (the No. 1 concern at 39 percent), they can take steps to avoid poor planning (the No. 2 concern at 36 percent). As the clock is ticking towards Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, these tips from Manta can still offer relief to small business owners who may be feeling ill-prepared for the holiday season.

  • Know Who You Want to Sell To: Manta's survey found that the bulk of holiday business comes from regular customers (45 percent), so knowing your customer group is critical. For successful sales, begin with understanding who your key target audience is and the products and services that will appeal to them. For instance, social channels may be the best way to reach mobile-using Millennials, whereas creative window displays and well-placed ads could get more attention from Boomers.

  • Get Creative, But Keep it Efficient: The holidays are demanding enough as it is, and coming up with a new pie-in-the-sky mobile app or daily-deal promotion at the last minute might suck up hours of your time that could be better spent with your customers. Use your creative juices to build a cool and appealing window display, and put your smartphone to use by taking pictures of new merchandise to post on social media channels.

  • Stick With What Works: If you know that participation in your community's local holiday shopping stroll or your "12 Days of Christmas" promotion across your social sites are what will bring in great sales for you, make sure you are ready to roll with those programs again this year.

  • Network to Support Your Fellow Business Owners and Yourself at the Same Time: Pull together a group of three or four other stores in your community to run some cross-store coupons or discount campaigns. Work out a system so each shop is handing out a coupon for another shop in your group each week, and then switch it up. This type of progressive couponing is a great way to drive new customers into your store.

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For the full results and methodology of this survey, please contact

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Contact Information:

Gina Giachetti
(415) 963-4174 ex. 17
Manta (at) highwirepr (dot) com