By Maximilian Clarke

Britain’s small retailers are gearing up to cash in over the festive period in spite of the challenging trading environment of the past year, research released by American Express and Costco suggests.

The research shows that businesses are still finding the economic environment testing, with 69% per cent saying the cost of business is higher now than this time last year, and a similar number working longer hours than ever before to keep their business profitable. In spite of this, the nation’s businesses are rising to the challenge and over a third will be extending their opening hours even further to maximise business opportunities over the festive period.

With just three weeks left until Christmas, careful management of stock levels is crucial to make the most of trade. But more than half of small businesses say that paying for stock upfront is a key concern when it comes to cashflow.

“We understand the challenges that small businesses are facing and that it’s important to strike the right balance between maintaining cashflow and investing in sufficient stock to make the most of the busy festive period,” said Steve Pappas, Managing Director. “A significant proportion of small businesses say that using a credit card helps them manage business cash flow (85 per cent) and that’s why we have partnered with American Express to offer new support to our members.”

The new partnership sees the launch of the new Costco TrueEarnings™ American Express® Credit Card, offering generous cashback rewards to Costco members for spending in Costco warehouses and elsewhere. In addition, Costco will now be accepting credit cards for the very first time across its 22 UK warehouses.

Looking to the year ahead, a third (32 per cent) of small companies say that maintaining financial flexibility will be a key challenge for 2012.

Steve Pappas concluded: “We run a tight operation that is focused on driving sales and delivering added value for our members. Our new partnership with American Express means we are giving small businesses across the country greater payment choices through the festive period and going into 2012.”


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