Attitudes toward the economy have improved over the past month among both small and midsized businesses, according to a new survey.

Findings in the latest monthly Office Depot Small Business Index indicate that small business confidence has significantly increased in terms of their overall economic forecast for the next six months, with more businesses anticipating higher company sales, profits and capital spending, while more respondents believe it will be easier to obtain a bank loan as well.

Significantly more small businesses expect that their firms will be hiring new employees in the next six months (26 percent in October compared to 19 percent in September). In fact, more respondents across both small and midsized firms (1-5 employees up to 20-99 employees) indicate that they will be adding new employees in the near future compared to findings seen only one month ago.

Moreover, when asked why they'll be hiring, more respondents in the October Small Business Index indicated that their "business is improving" (65 percent in October vs. 48 percent in September) and they feel that there is greater “economic certainty/stability” (24 percent in October vs. 19 percent in September).

“What we are hearing is that many small businesses are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel — unfortunately nobody knows for sure what that light is,” said Office Depot interim chairman and CEO Neil Austrian in a statement.

Despite a more positive outlook on the economy as a whole, the vast majority of small businesses surveyed indicate that the current economic environment will have an impact on their holiday gift planning — for both their clients and staff. Accordingly, less than two-fifths of the respondents plan on buying or sending gifts to their clients this year (38 percent), with just over half indicating that they will take care of their staff this holiday season (51 percent).

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