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Staff parties feel pinch as Christmas brings little cheer

By Heather McGarrigle

Published 30/11/2011

Budget pressures are forcing Northern Ireland businesses to cut back on Christmas cheer, according to a survey.

The latest Close Business Barometer is a survey of SME owner managers on issues that affect their business.

More than a quarter said they wouldn't be holding a staff Christmas party, with 61% of these saying they had no choice but to cut spending.

Nearly one in ten said they would close for a shorter time over the festive period, with half of those planning to close for two days less than usual and a further 25% closing for three days less.

Harry Parkinson, managing director of Close Brothers Commercial Finance, said: "I think there's a fear that customers may go elsewhere if you aren't open.

"There are other seasonal issues that affect productivity at this time of year too, such as bad weather conditions and an increased number of employee sick days. It's the combination of these things that has left small and medium sized businesses with little option but to keep trading over and above the norm this year."

The survey also showed 34% of firms are worried about employee sick days up to Christmas.

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