CardFlight Small Business Impact Report for July 9, 2020

Sales held steady last week; seasonal trends bring transaction counts up 11.4%

Introduction

Last week, overall sales at small businesses were almost completely in-line with the previous week (June 22–28). Sales were down 0.1% — though transaction counts increased by 11.4%.

An increase in small-ticket Retail transactions related to the Fourth of July holiday delivered sales growth of 2.6% in this category. The other two categories we track experienced a decline in sales: Food and Drink sales were down 1.6%, and sales at Services businesses were down 4%. The number of active merchants in our sample dipped slightly last week (down 1.1%), essentially reversing the gain from the previous week.

An important note about the charts in this week's report: To simplify the visual appearance of the charts in this report, we're now showing the preceding eight weeks compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020. There are two ways you can access the weekly small business data beyond the past eight weeks: Use the spreadsheet link located below each chart or view past editions of the report.

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 20% above baseline

Week-over-week sales at the small businesses in our sample were virtually unchanged for the fifth week in a row — down 0.1% over the preceding week. Overall sales have remained around 20% above the pre-COVID baseline week of March 2–8, 2020 since early June.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


Transaction counts increased 11% last week

The total number of transactions in our sample were up by 11.4% over the previous week, driven by an increase in retail transactions related to the Fourth of July holiday. The number of transactions the small businesses in our sample processed last week are at the highest they’ve been above the pre-COVID baseline, at more than 25%.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


Number of active small businesses down slightly last week

The number of active small businesses (measured as all businesses who processed at least one transaction in the previous week) in our sample decreased by 1.1% from June 29 – July 5 compared to the preceding week. This metric has been relatively stable since early June and is now 3.1% below the pre-COVID baseline.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


The average number of transactions per active merchant increased by 12.6% last week. This metric is now at a new high, more than 29% above the pre-COVID baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


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 regain ground week-over-week, ending the week of June 29 – July 5 more than 15% above the baseline.

Changing behavior as seen through payment method

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


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 20% over their pre-COVID baseline levels, contactless payment methods are up by more than 107%.

Changes in payment methods for in-person transactions

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


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 1.6% last week

Sales at Food and Drink businesses were down 1.6% last week, but remain more than 15% above the pre-COVID baseline of March 2–8, 2020. Meanwhile, transaction counts fell 4% week-over-week, but remain nearly 24% above the baseline.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


Retail sales up 2.6% last week

Sales at the Retail businesses in our sample were up slightly last week, and are now nearly 15% above the pre-COVID baseline.

Transaction counts in the Retail category grew by 39.5% last week and are now 34.9% above the baseline.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


Sales at Services businesses down 4.7% last week

Sales at businesses in the Services category were down nearly 5% last week, but remain nearly 12% above the pre-COVID baseline.

Transaction counts at Services businesses were essentially flat week-over-week. This metric remains 2.3% above the baseline.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Percentages provided above reflect total change over the preceding eight weeks, compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
For complete week-by-week data, see this spreadsheet
.


Business outlook

In this section of the Small Business Impact Report, we take a closer look at changes within different industries and business categories.

Businesses with the biggest sales gains last week

  • Miscellaneous retail: Last week's sales increased by 124.7% — driven by seasonal business activities
  • Organizations including education, religious and nonprofits: Revenue up 48.3% last week

A note about the businesses in our sample

Given the nature of small businesses as whole, at any time, there is a fair amount of new business formation and closures. The analysis below is our attempt to separate net changes in small-business activity from any pandemic-related market share shifts towards SwipeSimple.

Learn more about the SwipeSimple portfolio and our methodology for this section.

For the data tables on which the charts above were made, view the spreadsheet.

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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Get every CardFlight Small Business Report sent straight to your inbox. Unsubscribe any time.
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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.