ShopKeep has released its third quarter 2015 ShopKeep Small Business Index (SSBI). According to the SSBI, which draws upon insights gathered from 836 small business owners, the biggest worry this holiday season is not competing with national retail and restaurant chains, but rather competing with small businesses, changing EMV requirements as well as the overall state of the economy and how it will impact business during the fourth quarter and into 2016.
Despite these looming concerns, small business owners are historically a confident group, with the SSBI revealing that 76% are optimistic about the upcoming holiday season. This is even 6% greater than the year-over-year comparison from third quarter 2014. Moreover, 62% of the merchants surveyed are retailers, and among that group only 6% view Wal-Mart as a competitor, 4% view Target as a competitor and 13% view Amazon.com as a competitor, disproving popular belief that big box retailers and e-commerce are the biggest threats to today’s independent retailers. Across all merchants surveyed, 71% actually consider their main competitors to be other local businesses.
The SSBI reveals that small business owners also have broader concerns ranging from the state of the economy to inclement weather – factors that have a pronounced impact on the day-to-day bottom line. To compensate for these concerns, independent merchants are preparing for the holiday season by streamlining their operations to mitigate revenue loss. Key findings include:
- 73% of survey respondents stated that they will not be hiring seasonal employees.
- 30% of small business owners will close on major holidays, including Black Friday.
- Only 27% of respondents plan on extending their hours of operation during the holiday season to capitalize on the potential of additional sales. 48%of respondents would not consider seasonal hours and 25% were still undecided.
- 50% of merchants surveyed expressed concern about inclement weather impacting sales – especially with last year’s record-breaking low temperatures still fresh in the mind of retailers.
The EMV deadline has been looming over the heads of independent merchants for months now, but despite the EMV liability shift date having already passed, the SSBI indicated that 40% of merchants are still not prepared to accept chip cards. Over 25% of merchants surveyed noted that they either will not be EMV-compliant or unsure if they will be by the end of the year, suggesting that they are either taking a wait-and-see approach prior to investing in new technology or that further education is needed on fraud liability.
“Running a small business is not easy, making it almost impossible to count the number of concerns that keep merchants up at night,” explained ShopKeep president and CEO Norm Merritt. “Despite the myriad of issues, it’s reassuring to see merchants continue to be very optimistic. At ShopKeep our goal is to help merchants run smarter businesses and ultimately make the optimism about the holiday season a reality.”