Massachusetts Small Businesses Struggle to Maintain Optimism

Small businesses in Western Massachusetts and across the country are feeling the least optimistic they have all year. That’s according to a monthly study by the National Federation of Independent Business — or the NFIB.

Each month, the NFIB publishes what they call the Index of Small Business Optimism. The scale includes ten things ranging from plans to add jobs to inventory satisfaction. Bill Vernon is NFIB’s Massachusetts director. He reports negative numbers in all but one of these categories. He says the decline comes as a surprise after sales reached a five-year high this spring.

“It’s so frustrating. We seem to get a little bit of momentum, a little something happening. A seedling at the beginning and then it all just peters out in the summer.”

Vernon says a quarter of the business owners surveyed cited weak sales as their most significant problem this June.

Steve Freedman owns Amherst Wines and Spirits in Amherst, Massachusetts. He says he’s come to expect that seasonal drop-off.

“We are right now in our dormant period. But this is an area which is to some extent buffered – so the highs aren’t as high, the lows aren’t as low.”

Freedman says he’s had three employees for years – and he doesn’t see that going up or down.