June 2, 2005--If you listen to small business owners, the summer of 2005 is going to be a hot one -- at least when it comes to their cash registers.

In its Small-Business Conditions report, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found that 61% of small business owners across 26 states are optimistic that sales and productivity will jump in the upcoming three months. Combine that with Visa USA's SpendTrack report, a snapshot of national and regional credit-card spending habits that shows that consumer spending is up 17.7% over last year, and you have the ingredients for a small-business summer blockbuster.

Such optimism is fueled by the expectation that consumers flush with cash from rising home values and low interest rates will open their wallets in the coming months. Businesses serving the travel and entertainment, home furnishings and discount retail sectors should benefit the most, according to the Visa USA study.

At the same time, many businesses based in the Midwest, where housing prices have yet to catch up with those on the coasts, are taking a more cautious short-term approach. For example, only 23% of the Ohio small business owners polled thought that current business conditions were "good."

"Smart small companies are looking at restructuring of debt to lock in lower interest rates, keeping lean inventories and looking for ways to enhance their value proposition to customers as the basis for competing more effectively," said Jack Faris, NFIB's president and CEO.