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Can national sales gains happen for small businesses?

National sales are up, and this holiday season is looking brighter than the past several years, but the fiscal cliff looms over the nation, threatening spending.

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Retail and food sales are up

The U.S. Commerce Department of Commerce’ summary of retail and food sales for November 2012 sales are up 0.3 percent more than the previous month and 3.7 percent during this time last year. The increase in prices show consumers are a little more willing to go out and shop this year than in recent holiday seasons. But while these numbers pertain to success in the national retail industry, this increase in sales can also make its way into the small business industry as well with some changes in strategy.

Analysts cite a rise in online shopping and easily accessible deals as reasons to why November sales fared so well. Rather than fight the crowds, many consumers opted to search for deals and make purchases online. With so many online retailers offering free shipping and returns, it has created even more of an incentive to shop online. Retailers also opened stores earlier – many opening on the evening of Thanksgiving – in order for consumers to access deals earlier and shop at their convenience.

Employing these strategies at a local level

Consumers responded well to these tactics, therefore giving a business owner a likelihood of similar benefits if they were to employ the same strategies. Business in the retail industry saw a year-over-year increase of 3.4 percent, and non-store retailers were up 11.1 percent; if these patterns hold true, small business owners in these same industries could experience similar results. Consumers respond well to great deals that don’t take a lot of work to get to and benefit from. Discounts and promotions, coupled with the fact that your business is local and lets consumers shop both in person and online, just sweetens the deal.

But even with November’s success, analysts are watching how spending will be affected as the U.S. nears the edge of the fiscal cliff. As we get closer and closer to the end of the year, if there looks to be no signs of reconciliation, consumer spending will likely drop in order to conserve money. However, if it’s avoided, consumer spending will likely remain on the rise as retailers are pushing to accommodate consumers any way they can in order to encourage a sale, in order to make up for poor numbers in quarters and seasons past.

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Destiny Bennett is a journalist who has earned double communications' degrees in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a certification in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. She has written stories for AustinWoman Magazine as well as various University of Texas publications and enjoys the art of telling a story. Her interests include finance, technology, social media...and watching HGTV religiously.

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