MerchantCircle Releases SMB ‘Confidence Index’

This morning MerchantCircle released its second quarterly “merchant confidence index.” The survey had nearly 12K responses from among MC’s active member base of US small businesses (SMBs).

The idea here is to gauge the state of small business perceptions of the economy and several key issues, like hiring and marketing intentions. At a high level this is what MC said:

This quarter’s results show that the Merchant Confidence Index stands at a rating of 60.5 out of 100, and nearly 7 out of 10 small businesses believe the economy is the same or better than it was twelve months ago . . .

–Nearly 50 percent of local merchants expect sales revenue to “somewhat” or “significantly” improve over the next three months. This marks a nearly 10 percent increase over November 2009. However, only 17.1% expect to hire and 29.2% expect to spend more on marketing.

–58.8 percent of local merchants said credit availability had “worsened” or “significantly worsened” over the last three months, 36.7 percent said access to credit remained the same, and just 4.6 percent said it had “improved” or “significantly improved.”

Here are a few charts that depict the data graphically (click to enlarge):

There were a couple of interesting, SMB marketing-related questions:

Note that only 40% know Yelp in the chart above. This is partly because a large chunk of MC’s merchant-users come from non-metro areas.

It’s a bit tough to see the chart on the right (click to enlarge). What it shows is the number of these survey respondents who intend to promote their businesses on:

  • YouTube: 17.5%
  • Facebook: 14.2%
  • Twitter: 11.4%
  • Foursquare: 9.9%
  • Yelp: 9.8%
  • GoWalla: 9.8%

The list above is generally about SMBs embracing social media, broadly defined. Also, take it with some caution but Foursquare beats Yelp in the “intend to promote” category (and GoWalla ties). Attitudes, intentions and behavior are often two different things. But this is very interesting and reflects the PR buzz and exposure that Foursquare has right now.

It also reflects how these SMBs are actively considering mobile marketing (Foursquare and GoWalla), though they probably wouldn’t think of it exactly that way. That’s something that would have been unheard of last year at this time.

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