53% of US small businesses are concerned about competition from large retailers; yet they’re still optimistic, with 63% of them anticipating strong sales this holiday season. 86% of small businesses will use email marketing to promote their holiday season offerings and 38% of them will use other online methods including banner ads and paid search, to generate attention. Surveyed businesses noted that email marketing has the greatest impact on driving holiday sales (35%). 42% of respondents will begin their marketing earlier than they did in 2006, with as many as 63% of them beginning their promotions before Halloween. While most small businesses surveyed anticipate a lucrative holiday season and have an overall positive outlook (54%) on the US economy, most of them have no plans to increase staff during or after the holidays. In fact, 81% plan to keep the same level of staff through the holidays while more than 60% plan to maintain their current staffing levels in 2008, Constant Contact reports.