CardFlight Small Business Impact Report for July 22, 2020

Sales reach record high levels: up 2.6% week-over-week —now 25% above the baseline week of March 2–8.

Introduction

For the week of July 13–19, sales at small businesses in our sample reached the highest level we've seen since we began the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report. Overall sales increased by 2.6% week-over-week and are 25% over the baseline week of March 2–8. Transaction counts are 1.9% above the prior week and 15.9% above the baseline.

Over the past week, we saw record-high sales numbers in all three of the business categories we track. Food and Drink sales increased 4.5% and are now 25.2% above baseline. Retail sales increased by 4% and are now 18.2% above baseline. Services businesses continued their steady growth of 2.3% this past week, and are now 21.1% above baseline.

Retail transaction counts is the only category metric that didn’t grow week-over-week — falling 5.4%. At 8.2% below the baseline, transactions at retail businesses continue to be volatile.

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.

Due to seasonal changes related to the Fourth of July holiday, several metrics below show a marked increase in activity during the week of June 29 – July 5. To learn more about these changes and see more detailed analysis, view the Small Business Impact Report for July 9, 2020.

Sales at small business up 2.6% last week

Week-over-week sales at the small businesses in our sample increased by the biggest percentage-point increase we've seen since early June. Overall sales are now 25% 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 up 1.9% week-over-week

The transaction count metric represents the total number of transactions processed by the small businesses in our sample. Last week, transaction counts were up nearly 2% and are now 16% above 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
.


Number of active small businesses remains 1% below baseline

This metric measures all businesses who processed at least one transaction in the previous week. The number of active merchants was essentially unchanged from the previous week, down 0.1% from the week of July 6–12. For the second week, this metric is just 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 2% last week. Overall transactions per active merchant are now 17% 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
.


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.

Transactions made via card-not-present methods continue to trend above card-present in percentage-point terms, and are now nearly 34% above the pre-COVID baseline, while card-present transaction counts are just 6% 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 4% over their pre-COVID baseline levels, contactless payment methods are up more than 102%.

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 up 4.5% last week

Sales at Food and Drink businesses were up 4.5% week-over-week, and are now more than 25% above the pre-COVID baseline of March 2–8, 2020.

Meanwhile, transaction counts increased by 4.1% week-over-week, and are now 38% 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 4% week-over-week

Sales at the Retail businesses in our sample were up 4.1% week-over-week, and are now more than 18% above the pre-COVID baseline.

Transaction counts were down 5.4%, and now 8% below the baseline week.

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 up 2% last week

Sales at businesses in the Services category were up 2.3% last week, and are now more than 21% above the pre-COVID baseline.

Transaction counts at Services businesses were up 3.6% last week. This metric is now more than 12% 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.

This week, we look at Services businesses with the largest and steadiest growth in transactions since the baseline, which is a key indicator of customer behaviors.

  • On-site technical service transactions have grown for 12 consecutive weeks and this week are 69.7% above the baseline weeks
  • Repair shop transactions have grown for 12 consecutive weeks and are now 38.8% above baseline
  • Transactions at other transportation services (like parking lots, auto rental, and maintenance) have grown for nine consecutive weeks and are 38.6% above baseline
  • Entertainment and recreation have grown for the past eight weeks and are 81.6% above baseline

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.

Month-over-month changes

Next, we take a look at the month-over-month changes to sales, transaction counts, and number of active merchants at US small businesses. This analysis is based on "whole month" comparisons, using March, 2020 as the baseline month.

Monthly change in sales

Sales at the small businesses in our sample ended the month of June 26% above May, and are now 36.7% above the pre-COVID baseline month.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Chart represents percentage-point month-over-month change compared to the baseline month of March, 2020.


Monthly change in transaction counts

Transaction counts ended the month of June 18.1% above May, and are now 45% above the pre-COVID baseline.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Chart represents percentage-point month-over-month change compared to the baseline month of March, 2020.


Monthly change in active merchants

The number of active small businesses in our sample ended June up 8.5% over May, and are now 1.6% below the pre-COVID baseline month.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple. Chart represents percentage-point month-over-month change compared to the baseline month of March, 2020.


Thanks for reading

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.