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  • Small-business owners have a few reasons for optimism


    Small-business owners can breathe a sigh of relief for two reasons: consumer spending is up and the economy is growing at a rapid pace.

    Bloomberg reported the Commerce Department found average household increased spending by 0.6 percent in November, with households doling out cash for televisions, clothes, new cars and home appliances. The recent rise in spending topped a median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

    "Consumer spending in particular looks like it's on a pretty good track right now," Michael Feroli, a New York-based economist, told Bloomberg. "Energy prices are down, labor markets have good momentum, so we're in pretty good shape heading into 2015."

    Additionally, the economy grew at its fastest pace in more than a decade. Household purchases climbed at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, a better than expected result. Household purchases are huge for the nation's fiscal well-being. Bloomberg reported they account for nearly 70 percent of the economy.

    "We have very solid momentum entering 2015," Michael Gapen, an economist for a financial institution, told Bloomberg. "Labor markets are doing better, the consumer has a more favorable outlook for the economy and their own incomes, and they're acting on it."

    Where should small businesses make investments?
    While many small businesses have already established a presence on the Web, recent findings from the National Retail Federation might sway those business owners who have gone without a chic site.

    The NRF reported a great deal of Americans are using online sites to complete their shopping, and the federation expects more people to do so in the near future. Research from eMarketer revealed approximately 1.75 billion people worldwide used a smartphone in 2014, which is why investments in online and mobile sites are largely necessary for small businesses to succeed.

    For small-business owners who have a strong mobile and online platform, The Washington Post recommends monitoring cart abandonments.

    Cart abandonment is when an online shopper puts something into their shopping bag but leaves the site before checking out. The Post stated the number of steps in the checkout process will impact the rate of abandonment. This means the fewer steps it takes to complete the checkout process, the more likely the shopper will complete their purchase.

    The Post recommends business owners test their checkout process and look for ways to lower the amount of time it takes to checkout.

    The arrow is pointing up for consumer spending
    A leading presence in the retail and distribution industry revealed its measure of spending is up.

    Deloitte, a financial advisory firm to more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 retailers, revealed its Consumer Spending Index climbed to 4.5 in November from 4.0 the previous month.

    "The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index grew to reach the highest reading since November 2013," Daniel Bachman, senior U.S. economist at Deloitte, said in an a release. "November's number benefitted from improvements in real wages, house prices and the labor market. The fundamentals for consumer spending remain strong."

    Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte, said a better economic landscape is pushing consumers into storefronts. Paul said retailers will likely experience growth and should keep their store fully stocked and ready to go. She said small businesses that are prepared are more likely to keep consumers happy, which typically entails a large portion of repeat buyers.

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