A study by online giant eBay found that one in eight firms expected to hire new staff this year.
The survey of 400 retailers also showed that a similar number believed they would start to export goods in the coming 12 months.
Kit Glover, director of professional selling at eBay UK said the findings were encouraging.
He said: "Despite a tough retail environment, the fact that digital small businesses are looking to expand their product offerings, export to more foreign markets and employ more people here in the UK can only be a good thing."
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