More small businesses to give parties, bonuses, time off for holidays

Participants flood into the subway during Santa Con. Could the surge in goodwill at small businesses this season spark a similar scene?
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Small-business owners are increasingly feeling the holiday cheer, with more giving bonuses and throwing parties than in recent years, according to a new report.

A survey of 501 bosses managing fewer than 100 employees each found that, on average, they plan to give out a 9% paycheck boost to their workers this year. Some 35% of small-business owners will give bonuses, up from 29% last year, according to the poll from American Express.

And four in 10 supervisors said they’ll throw a holiday party, up from 35% in 2011. But they’ll cut back slightly on fete costs, spending $959 on average instead of $1,029. Half of companies will give their workers time off for the holidays, an improvement on 2011.

More than half of bosses will give their clients and customers gifts, up from 43% last year. Their Santa budgets will average out to $958 each, compared with $827 last year and $740 the year before.

Scrooging is falling out of favor: A third of small-business owners last year said they wouldn’t do anything special for the holidays, a portion that this year is closer to two in 10.


But don’t look to small businesses to extend the goodwill to shoppers. Just 19% said they will offer discounts or other deals to boost holiday sales, down 24% from last year and far below the 41% of retailers who said they would do the same.


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