Small Business Owners Optimistic This Holiday Season – Especially Those Investing in Digital Capabilities


Despite ongoing concerns surrounding inflation, U.S. small business owners are optimistic about the future – and they’re prepared to adapt as needed to meet their customers’ needs. According to new research by Union Bank, a leading West Coast bank, small businesses that have prioritized digital-technology capabilities and increased their social-media presence since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic have seen their businesses grow.

The Union Bank Small Business Holiday Spending 2022 Survey reveals that most small-business owners are evolving their business to keep up with changing consumer expectations and demands. Most notably, half of U.S. small-business owners have added third-party payment systems and half of California small-business owners have added online ordering. On the social-media front, more than half of U.S. small-business owners said they believe their increased social-media presence has led to more sales, customers and overall business growth. 

Holiday spending at small businesses

The year-end holiday season should deliver an increase in sales for many small businesses, according to the survey. The survey results show 85% of consumers agree that spending money on holiday shopping with a small business is “money well spent.” One in three Californians plan to spend 50-70% of their holiday budget at small businesses.

“Today’s economic environment has motivated small business owners to adapt and develop their capabilities to maximize earning potential this holiday season. Now more than ever, small businesses need to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and continue to be creative in how they evolve and adjust to meet consumer expectations,” says Todd Hollander, head of business banking, small business administration and small business, Union Bank. 

Consumers are increasingly seeing and feeling the impacts of labor shortages on the overall shopping experience, causing an increased number of them to buy products they need online, according to the survey results. The current business landscape is an opportunity for small-business owners to stay flexible and implement acquisition strategies that will help meet the changing consumer expectations, economic uncertainties and intense competition.

Finding creative ways to grow the business

“When we started our business, we were very focused on making beautiful, well-crafted stationary by hand and creating a very personalized in-store experience for our clients. But we were able to successfully grow and diversify our business by not only adding an online shopping experience but also diversifying the channels we use to reach our different client segments where they shop. This strategy has served us well throughout the pandemic and beyond,” says Chelsea Shukov, founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based Sugar Paper.

While the Covid-19 pandemic and economic concerns have impacted the daily operations of small businesses across the U.S., many small business owners have pivoted to find solutions that meet the expectations and demands of the modern consumer, who relies on digital tools.

“Our business is my family’s legacy,” says Emmanuel Rodriguez, owner, Baker’s Bodega Express, Baldwin Park, California. “The pandemic forced us to find creative ways to stay open, maintain jobs and continue to grow our business. That meant modernizing our approach for our wholesale baking business by creating an e-commerce platform, and now we are expanding our social media strategy to promote our products, reach new clients and stay relevant.”

Research for the new survey was gathered through an online survey commissioned by Union Bank and conducted by global independent research firm Edelman DxI. The survey was completed by 1,005 U.S. consumers (age 18+) and 200 U.S. small-business owners, sampled to be nationally representative.

The full Holiday Spending 2022 Survey can be downloaded here.