If you're feeling more confident about the economy and your prospects for the holiday shopping season, it's not because your customers are also feeling cheery.
Traditionally, small business owners across the country are highly concerned with how flush consumers feel heading into the holiday shopping season. After all, this is the time of year when many shops achieve profitability. If consumers aren't feeling so good--particularly around the all important Black Friday shopping holiday--that can spell disaster for just about any small business.
That's what makes a recent survey of small business owners and retail customers sort of confusing. Per the survey from Raddon Financial Group, a subsidiary of payment technology provider Fiserv, more than half of small business owners said they are beginning to see signs, or even evidence that the economy is improving, compared to 36 percent of consumers.
And while 41 percent of small business owners say they don't see any indications that the recession is over, that's actually three percentage points lower than the number of consumers who say economic conditions have not improved. Raddon polled 1,200 small business owners and an equivalent number of retail consumers in September and October.
So why the disparity? Raddon says it thinks small business owner sentiment may be a leading indicator, and that means consumer sentiment will soon catchup. After all, it's taken years for the unemployment rate to return to its current level of 5 percent, and unemployment has factored into consumer sentiment since 2010, Raddon says.
By contrast, small business confidence seems to be on the rise, Raddon suggests, in part because entrepreneurs are having an easier time getting loans. Over the past three years, half of small business owners reported applying for a loan from banks or another financial institution, with 20 percent applying more than once for financing. Ninety percent successfully received financing, Raddon reports.