How much is that doggie in the window actually worth? ?59.7 million

Having a pet on the payroll can boost the income of small shops across the UK as a whole by as much as ?60 million,? according to new research from American Express. The draw of a ?doggie in the window? is so irresistible that more than a third (36%) of shoppers admit they are more likely to visit a particular shop if they know there is a four legged friend there to greet them. Furthermore, 30% say they will linger longer in-store ? an extra 13 minutes more, on average and a similar number (32%) are more inclined to take the time to talk to the staff of a small shop that has a pet.

However, importantly, animal attraction not only increases browsing time and fosters customer engagement in small shops with pets, it encourages spend. More than eight million Brits say they would spend on average ?6.86 more with a retailer when there is a pet on the shop floor.

The age of social media has compounded this furry advantage. The presence of a pup or cat increases the odds that shoppers will post about a store on social media by 22%, allowing small shop owners to publicise their business online with no expenditure.?

The positive influence of ?man?s best friend? also extends beyond the high street; of those polled who own a dog themselves, 44% said they are more efficient with working hours because they have to take their dog for a walk. While to some a pet pooch might seem a distraction, dog owners argued the opposite, with 61% stating having a dog keeps them company when working alone and 36% feel a dog increases their productivity.? One in ten even admit that their pup is the perfect audience when rehearsing an important presentation.?

Nikki Edelman, Director at American Express said: ?It might seem unconventional but it appears that business owners who bring their pets to work have the perfect company asset.? The presence of a dog can be a great ice breaker for tentative browsers and can even entice new customers through the front door. However, whether you are an animal lover, pet owner or neither, we encourage everyone to paws for thought this Small Business Saturday and show their support for local independents by shopping small?.

To shine a spotlight on the nation?s small businesses at this time of year, Small Business Saturday founder and principal supporter, American Express commissioned photographer Mike Buck to visit some of the UK?s small businesses enjoying the benefits of canine companions.

One such business is Phlox Books from London; whose French Bulldog Huxley is well known to regulars and an essential part of this small business?s team.

Aim?e Madill, owner of Phlox Books, Leyton said: ?I opened the bookshop and bar about six months ago, and it has been a real joy to be able to bring my French Bulldog, Huxley, to work with me. Having Huxley around gives the shop such a homely feel and people love to come in, sit with a book and a coffee whilst he gets on with his daily work of running a business. He?s becoming a bit of a local celebrity in the area as he often sits by the window and people can?t resist taking a photo, or popping in to say hello and have a browse ? always a very good thing for a small business!?

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