CardFlight Small Business Impact Report for July 1, 2020

Another week of relative stability: sales up nearly 2% week-over-week.

Introduction

Sales at small businesses held steady for the third consecutive week, with a slight 1.9% week-over-week increase. Transaction counts were also steady, up by 0.7%.

Of all the small businesses we track in this report, Services is the only category that grew last week, up 4.2% week-over-week.

Key takeaways from this week’s report

About this report

The CardFlight Small Business Impact Report is intended to provide insights into the impacts of coronavirus/COVID-19 on small businesses across the United States. The report has been featured in and/or cited by The Atlantic, Bloomberg TV, Business Insider, Digital Transactions, PaymentsJournal, PaymentsSource, and others.

Learn more about the report and our methodology.

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Week-over-week changes

First, we examine how coronavirus/COVID-19 is affecting small business sales by analyzing change in overall sales, number of transactions per business, and more.

Sales at small business more than 20% above the baseline

Week-over-week sales at the small businesses in our sample were relatively unchanged for the third week in a row— up 1.9% over the preceding week. Overall sales are now more than 20% above the pre-COVID baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Transaction counts virtually unchanged week-over-week

The total number of transactions in our sample were up by 0.7% over the previous week. The number of transactions the small businesses in our sample processed last week are above the pre-COVID baseline by more than 12%.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Number of active small businesses now 2% below the baseline

The number of active small businesses (measured as all businesses who processed at least one transaction in the previous week) in our sample grew by 1.3% from June 22–28 compared to the preceding week. The number of active merchants is now just 2.1% below the pre-COVID baseline.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


The average number of transactions per active merchant was down by 0.6% last week. This metric is now about 15% above the pre-COVID baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Card-present payments vs. card-not-present

The payments industry has two broad categories for transactions based on where they occur.

  • Card-present payments are those that are initiated in-person (face-to-face). This includes all instances in which a credit or debit card is physically swiped, inserted, or tapped at a merchant location.
  • Card-not-present payments are those made over the phone or online. This category of payments also includes invoices and those merchants who save cards of their frequent customers on file.

At the onset of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, card-present sales decreased at a faster rate than card-not-present sales. That trend ended around the week of April 6–12, when card-present sales began to slowly gain ground week-over-week, ending the week of June 22–28 up nearly 10% over the baseline week.

Changing behavior as seen through payment method

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Changing behavior as seen through contactless tap to pay

Next, we'll examine how coronavirus/COVID-19 is changing the manner by which consumers pay for their goods in-person. The three ways US consumers typically use credit and debit cards for in-person transactions are:

  • Dipping an EMV chip card
  • Tapping a contactless card or smart phone
  • Swiping via magnetic stripe

Since magnetic stripe payments are a relatively low proportion of our payment volume, we're focusing on chip cards and contactless tap. We continue to see that overall, growth in sales made via contactless payment methods are outpacing those made via EMV chip.

While payments made via EMV chip are now up more than 4% over their pre-COVID baseline levels, contactless payment methods are up by more than 78%.

Changes in payment methods for in-person transactions

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Deep dive: Sales by business category

In this section of the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report, we take a closer look at small business performance by business category.

  • Food and Drink establishments: Includes bars and restaurants
  • Services: General contractors, healthcare providers, providers of professional services, and others
  • Retail: Businesses like sporting goods stores, specialty retail, home furnishings, and automotive

Sales at Food and Drink businesses down 3.7% last week, still 17% above baseline

Sales at Food and Drink businesses were down 3.7% last week, but remain more than 17% above the pre-COVID baseline of March 2–8, 2020. Meanwhile, transaction counts fell by 3.7% week-over-week, but remain nearly 29% above the baseline for the fourth week in a row.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Retail sales down 4% last week

Sales at the Retail businesses in our sample were down slightly last week, and are now nearly 12% above the pre-COVID baseline.

Transaction counts in the Retail category were virtually unchanged last week — up 1%, and are now 3.3% below the baseline overall.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Sales at Services businesses up 4% week-over-week

Sales at businesses in the Services category increased by 4.2% last week, and are now up more than 17% over the pre-COVID baseline.

Transaction counts in the Services category increased slightly, up 0.4% week-over-week, and are now more than 2% above the baseline week.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentage provided for each week reflects total change from baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.


Thanks for reading the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report

Do you have questions, feedback, or press inquiries? Contact us. You may also view past editions of the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report.

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About the report

The CardFlight Small Business Impact Report is intended to provide insights into the impacts of coronavirus/COVID-19 on small businesses across the United States. The report and the data within have been featured in The Atlantic, Bloomberg TV, Business Insider, Digital Transactions, PaymentsJournal, PaymentsSource, and others.

Methodology

The report is based on analysis of a representative sample of more than two million transactions processed by more than 60,000 small businesses who use CardFlight’s SwipeSimple software to accept credit and debit card payments.

To create this report, we analyzed a representative sample of millions of transactions processed by:

  • in all 50 states 
  • using CardFlight’s SwipeSimple software to accept credit and debit card payments

This report can be useful in understanding the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses at a hyper-local perspective and across the US. For up-to-date data regarding shifts in consumer spending among local businesses, impacts across different industries, and across cities and states, access the most recent report.

The SwipeSimple small business owner 

The typical SwipeSimple merchant has one to ten employees and less than five locations or mobile service points. The average active merchant represented in this data set processes approximately $130,000 in credit/debit card payments annually. The merchants are a mix of professional and personal service providers, specialty retail establishments, and food and drink purveyors.