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Survey Shows Americans Trust Small Business, Value Emotional Connection Formed Shopping In-Person

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Karen Stoychoff

A new survey finds Americans crave connection, agree that strong partnerships help simplify the complexities of life. Check out the animated survey infographic.




Reuniting with family. Honoring traditions. Reconnecting with friends. Shopping at a favorite small business. The excitement and anticipation of the holiday season nears. And according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by SurePayroll, Americans are feeling more sentimental than ever.

The survey gauged Americans’ gratitude for the relationships in their lives—whether with family and friends or small businesses—and the role technology plays in helping maintain connections during the hectic holiday season.

Emotional Connections Drive Gratitude

Sixty percent of Americans said they feel more sentimental about the relationships in their life throughout November and December, with 71% feeling extra thankful for the people in their life this year. People are most thankful for their kids (54%), romantic partner (53%) and siblings (45%). One in seven employed respondents even feel thankful for their co-worker.

Forty percent of respondents also shared that they have a strong relationship with a small business, citing that they understand their needs (55%), offer personalized service (54%) or are available when they need them (51%). Of the different types of businesses, 83% of Americans have the easiest time forming strong relationships with small businesses and are most likely to trust them when compared to midsize and large businesses (70%).

“Americans crave connection—especially during the holidays—and prioritize trust in their personal and business relationships. That trust can be a difference-maker in the competitive marketplace,” said Jenna Shklyar, SurePayroll Head of Marketing.

Technology Bridges the Gap

Half of respondents said it’s hard to form a good partnership with people outside of their circle, and

a similar percentage said this only gets more difficult as they get older (51%) – reaching peak difficulty in the early to mid-40s.

Most survey respondents (63%) agree they try their hardest to keep in touch with their people in their life during the bustle of the holiday season. Fifty-one percent attribute the closeness of their relationships to technology, sharing that it allows them to express appreciation for the people in their life when they can’t be there in person (74%). Half of those surveyed said they use technology more during the holiday season to keep in touch with loved one than at other times of the year (52%).

Most respondents recall having a virtual heart-to-heart conversation with someone using technology – whether over the phone, video call or email – (54%), and similarly, 50% would sentimentally reminisce on that conversation at a later time.

The average American has five people in their life they have a very strong relationship with and can lean on for anything, according to new research. From finding someone who is trustworthy (48%) or a good listener (41%) to finding someone loyal(33%), nearly three-quarters of respondents agree that strong partnerships help simplify the complexities of life (74%).

Similarly, 85% said good communication is key to relationships that feel fulfilling, yet simple. Outside of their close circle, people have some of the best partnerships with their neighbors and doctors. Nearly a third of employed respondents said one of their strongest partnerships is with their co-worker (31%).

“The foundation for fulfilling relationships is similar, whether with a family member, co-worker, health care provider or a neighborhood small business,” said Jenna Shklyar, head of marketing at SurePayroll.

Americans Trust, Prefer Small Business

While larger businesses may have a bigger technology budget, 45% of respondents think mom-and-pop businesses use technology more effectively to form customer relationships. Fifty-two percent of respondents prefer to shop in person at small businesses, compared to 11% who choose to shop online.

“Local mom-and-pop small businesses have an edge over midsize and large businesses when it comes to using technology to form relationships with customers, yet customers still rate forming an in-person connection more important than a strong online presence,” said Shklyar. “Now is a great time to enhance training to ensure staff is knowledgeable, responsive, and prepared for the holiday rush. Small-business owners should also directly connect their online presence to in-store promotions.”

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