The FINANCIAL -- Small
business optimism is the highest it has been since third quarter 2008,
according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.
The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index improved 9 points since second quarter and 36 points since the fourth quarter of 2012, to a positive 25 (+25). A major driver of this improvement is business owner optimism around availability of credit now and in the future. While it’s well below pre-recession levels, the Index score is the highest it has been in five years. In August, the Index marks its 10th anniversary of measuring U.S. small business owner perceptions of the economy and business impact, according to Wells Fargo, a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.4 trillion in assets.
“For 10 years, the Small Business Index has taken the pulse of small business owners in America,” said Doug Case, Wells Fargo small business segment manager. “The survey has shown a slow and uneven recovery for small businesses, and this quarter we continue to see business owners express cautious optimism as economic trends improve, such as a strengthening housing market,” Case added.
Small business owners said they feel more optimistic about their ability to access credit over the next year, according to Wells Fargo. In the survey, 28 percent of small business owners said they expect credit to be very or somewhat easy to obtain in the next 12 months, up from 24 percent in the second quarter of 2013 and the highest percentage since 2009. Thirty percent said they expect credit to be difficult to obtain in the next 12 months – down significantly from the 36 percent recorded last quarter and the lowest this measure has been in five years.
The July survey asked business owners about today’s real estate and housing market, and its impact on their businesses. A majority of small business owners (57 percent) said they have seen an overall improvement in the housing market in their area. At the same time, 42 percent reported that their business relies either somewhat (22 percent) or a great deal (20 percent) on a strong housing market. Moreover, 45 percent indicated that a rise in housing prices would improve their business’s sales either somewhat (33 percent) or a great deal (12 percent), according to Wells Fargo.
In the most recent survey, 25 percent of small business owners reported an increase in capital spending in the past 12 months. Additionally 26 percent of business owners said they are planning to increase spending in the next 12 months, consistent with last quarter’s results. The number one reason business owners cited for not making a capital investment was continued concern about the overall state of the economy (64 percent) followed by uncertainty in the future of their business (57 percent), according to Wells Fargo.