HAVING a pet on the payroll can boost the income of small shops across the UK as a whole by £59.7 million.

American Express carried out the research in the run up to Small Business Saturday on December 2.

One shop which has seen the benefits dogs can bring is Brighton florist Florian, where rescue puppies Peggy and Audrey are a vital part of the team.

Carrie Cox, owner of Florian in Western Road, said: “Peggy, or Miss Peg as we call her, is brilliant at greeting our customers and they all love coming in to see her.

“She’s such a chilled-out character and she definitely makes people feel more at home, creating a lovely, relaxed atmosphere while they’re browsing – and spending.

“We’re lucky to be part of such a vibrant community of small, independent shops in Brighton and Peggy plays a big part in the unique character of our shop.”

Small Business Saturday founder and principal supporter American Express has released the story to shine a spotlight on the nation’s small businesses at this crucial time of year.

The draw of a doggie in the window is so irresistible that more than a third 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 per cent say they will linger longer in-store – an extra 13 minutes more, on average – and a similar number (32 per cent) 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.

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, American Express commissioned photographer Mike Buck to visit some of the UK’s small businesses enjoying the benefits of canine companions.

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots campaign that encourages people to shop in local, small, independent businesses across the country.