CardFlight Small Business Report expanded edition: September 2, 2020

Get our sales predictions for the Labor Day holiday weekend & more.

Introduction

In this expanded edition of the CardFlight Small Business Report, we report on last week's sales data, provide a month-end look back, and share our predictions for the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.

In this report:

About this report

The CardFlight Small Business Report analyzes sales performance and emerging trends among small businesses in 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. Sign up below to receive future report notifications right in your inbox.

Learn more about the report and our methodology.

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Week-over-week changes

First, we examine change in week-over-week small business performance by analyzing change in overall sales, number of transactions per business, and more.

Sales at small businesses unchanged last week

Week-over-week sales at the small businesses in our sample were completely flat over the week of August 24–30, 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
.


Transaction counts down 2.3% last week

The transaction count metric represents the total number of transactions processed by the small businesses in our sample. Last week, transaction counts decreased by 2.3%.

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 0.2% last week

This metric measures all businesses who processed at least one transaction in the preceding week. The number of active merchants decreased by 0.2% last 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
.


The average number of transactions per active merchant decreased by 2.1% last 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
.


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.

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

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

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 10% over their pre-COVID baseline levels, contactless payment methods are up more than 140%.


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 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 8.2% last week

Sales at Food and Drink businesses decreased by 8.2% last week. Transaction counts decreased by 1.7% week-over-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
.


Retail sales up 0.8% last week

Sales at the Retail businesses in our sample increased by 0.8% week-over-week. Meanwhile, transaction counts decreased by 0.5%.

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 1.1% last week

Sales at businesses in the Services category decreased by 1.1% last week. Meanwhile, transaction counts decreased by 4.7%.

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
.


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 August 3.3% below July.

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 August 0.1% below July.

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 the month of August 1.4% above July.

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.


Predictions: Labor Day holiday weekend

In this section of the report, we share our predictions for the coming Labor Day holiday weekend and expected small business sales performance. The following projections are based on analysis of recent three-day holiday weekends, in which the holiday falls on a Monday.

Check back on September 16 to see the actual Labor Day small business sales data and see how our predictions hold up. We'll report how actual results compare to our predictions. Or signup to get future editions of the CardFlight Business Report sent straight to your inbox.

Lower sales

Overall sales will likely decline by 75% this coming Monday. This decrease will affect the week's overall sales numbers by about 10%.

The chart below shows sales over the past eight Mondays in blue (actuals), and our predicted sales number for Labor Day in green.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple.

Fewer transactions

We expect to see 50% fewer transactions this coming Monday compared to a typical Monday.

The chart below shows transaction counts over the past eight Mondays in blue (actuals), and our predicted transaction count number for Labor Day in green.

Source: Transactions processed by US small businesses with SwipeSimple.


Thanks for reading

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

Never miss a new report

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 Report is intended to provide insights into ongoing sales performance, trends, predictions, and unique analysis of US small businesses. The report has 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 65,000 small businesses who use SwipeSimple software (the signature product of CardFlight) 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

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.