Areas of the country that were stricken by extreme winter weather for months are starting to thaw out, and with the gradual warm up in temperatures comes increased optimism among small business owners who expect sales to increase. The confidence index from the National Federation of Independent Business rose to 93.4 in March – up from 91.4 in February.
“While the index still can’t seem to get above 95, we can be encouraged that the economy is at least crawling forward and not heading in reverse,” said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist for the trade group.
The survey results showed a near eradication of the 2.7 point decrease experienced in February as the country’s consumers continue to warm up and emerge from their homes after being cooped up for months. Twelve percent of survey respondents said they anticipate increased sales in the next three months – up 9 percentage points from February.
The increase in sales and optimism also are tied to boosts in hiring, with small business owners reporting that they increased their payrolls by an average of 0.18 workers in March from 0.11 the previous month.
“There could be some weather effects still in the data, but some of the best job producing areas, the Southwest and West and Florida, did not have weather problems,” the survey release explained. “As spring rolls in, a better picture of the underlying strength of our labor markets will be revealed.”
Owners who are experiencing growth and need increased business capital to hire more workers or expand their operations should look into small business loans from nontraditional lenders like National Funding. With a focus on helping the country’s small businesses thrive, nontraditional lenders offer such operations – which often have shallower pockets – greater ease of access and more flexible terms.