As businesses gear up for the holiday season, they are optimistic about sales and predict growth for the next quarter and into 2017, according to the American Express (NYSE:AXP) Holiday Growth Pulse, a survey of 1,502 small and middle market businesses across a variety of industries. Specifically in the retail industry, nearly six in ten (59%) small business retailers think holiday sales will be stronger compared to last year, and 34% think they will be roughly the same as last year. Small business retailers (companies with fewer than 100 employees and annual revenues of $250,000 or greater) are not alone in their positive outlook - 81% of middle market retailers (companies with $10 million to $1 billion in annual revenues) also feel sales will be stronger than last year. Retailers See Growth Potential in 2017 as Contingent on Successful 2016 Holiday SeasonSmall Business Saturday often marks the start of the busy holiday shopping season for small retailers, and holiday sales are a significant indicator of future growth for many of these businesses. Nearly six in ten (59%) small business retailers see their potential for growth in 2017 as being contingent on a successful holiday season. Middle market retailers feel even stronger about the importance of the holidays, with 89% saying their potential for growth in 2017 will be contingent on a successful 2016 holiday season. To ensure they can meet demand, the majority of middle market retailers (77%) plan to hire additional staff for the holidays, while less than one third (31%) of small business retailers plan to add staff. "Retailers are optimistic about the upcoming holiday season and the impact it will have on their growth in 2017," said Susan Sobbott, President of Global Commercial Payments at American Express. "As small and middle market retailers gear up for this critical season, many are offering promotions to draw customers in, and hire additional staff to ensure quality customer service during the busy season."