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Survey: Holiday Gift Budgets To Remain Steady
A new American Express OPEN survey shows nearly half (47%) of small businesses plan to give gifts to clients this holiday season, similar to results in 2008. However, the survey also shows fewer small business owners (35%) expect to give gifts to their own employees compared to last year (46%), opting instead to provide time off. "Entrepreneurs understand the importance of showing appreciation for customers’ business especially during tough economic times," said Alice Bredin, American Express OPEN business advisor. "While the gifting emphasis may be on customers, employers recognize the gift of time as a way to give to employees without breaking the bank."

Despite economists’ claims that the recession has ended, more than two-thirds (69%) of survey respondents do not believe the worst of the U.S. economic woes are over. As a result, only 31% of business owners have plans to give year-end bonuses (compared to 44% in 2008), with only 16% expected to offer raises (compared to 30% in 2008).

Nearly six in 10 entrepreneurs (57%) say the economic downturn has changed their holiday gift-giving behavior. Among those who plan to send gifts to clients, cards and calendars remain the most popular recognition items, followed by retail and restaurant gift cards and fruit and food baskets. Gifts like wine, liquor and flowers are expected to be popular as well. In contrast, business owners appear less likely this year (7%) than last year (19%) to provide high-end gifts.

By region, business owners in the western U.S. are most likely (51%) to gift clients this holiday season. Meanwhile, business owners in the north central states have bigger holiday budgets for clients and customers ($566) than those in the Northeast ($513), West ($446) and South ($356).
 
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