CardFlight Small Business Impact Report for April 15, 2020

While overall sales are down or flat, number of transactions are increasing in many verticals.

Never miss a new report

Get every CardFlight Small Business Impact Report sent straight to your inbox. Unsubscribe any time.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Stay up-to-date

Don't miss information about new products, company announcements, and more. Signup for updates today.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Introduction

This week, overall sales at US small businesses decreased week-over-week, but at a relatively modest rate compared to the several weeks preceding that. Sales seem to have stabilized for now. 

Despite the overall declining sales numbers we've gleaned from the 60,000 small businesses that use SwipeSimple to accept payments, we continue to see some interesting things in the data. 

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 is based on analysis of a representative sample of over one million transactions processed from March 2 to April 12, 2020 by 60,000 small businesses who use CardFlight’s SwipeSimple software to accept credit and debit card payments. Learn more about our methodology.

This past week:  

  • Sales at food and drink establishments declined 2% week-over-week, but number of transactions increased for the second consecutive week.
  • Retail sales declined 32.5% since the baseline week — but are only down 1.5% week-over-week — and number of transactions grew for the first time (+3%).
  • Sales at service providers are down 36.6% since March 2, but average transaction size is up 39.4%.

Read on for more key insights and analysis, including:

Sign up for new report notifications

Never miss a new edition of the CardFlight CardFlight Small Business Impact Report. Sign up for notifications.

Week-over-week changes

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

Small business sales down 4% week-over-week

Sales at the small businesses in our sample were down 4% this week versus the week prior. Overall sales are down 29.3% from the baseline week (March 2–8). While still a meaningful drop, this sales decrease isn’t as drastic as the week-over-week decreases we observed during weeks March 16–29, when sales decreased by more than 12 percentage points two weeks in a row.


Number of transactions down 3.1% 

Transaction count also decreased week-over-week, down 3.1%. However, the number of weekly transactions at small businesses seems to be steadily leveling off from March 9, when the number of weekly transactions fell by more than 20 percentage points for two weeks in a row.

Average transaction size is flat 

The dollar amount of the average transaction remains essentially unchanged compared to last week (March 30 – April 5). However, the average transaction taken by a business using SwipeSimple to accept credit card payments is up 37% over the baseline week.

More small businesses close their doors 

Over the week of April 6–12, 4% fewer businesses posted new transactions, suggesting they are closed for business at least temporarily. Overall, nearly 30% of all small businesses in our sample closed for business since March 2, 2020. 

Of those small businesses that are open, activity is relatively unchanged over the preceding week (March 30–April 5). The average number of transactions per small business is up 1% week-over-week, but down by 27% over the baseline.

Deep dive: Sales by business vertical

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

While overall sales are down, looking at the number of transactions processed by small businesses adds nuance to the story. As we take a closer look at the transaction data, we see some positive signals.


Food and drink establishments

Sales at food and drink establishments are down 2% week-over-week, suggesting some stabilization for now. While overall sales are down 24.6% since the baseline week, the number of transactions increased for the second consecutive week during April 6–12. 

Retail

The week of April 6–12 saw another decrease in sales for the retail category, which is comprised of sporting goods stores, specialty retail, home furnishings, automotive, and others. Sales in this category are off 32.5% since the baseline week.

However, sales decreased by only 1.5% week-over-week, and number of transactions were up slightly week-over-week (up 3%). This is the first time we’ve seen an increase in the number of transactions per business since early March.

Service providers

Sales at service providers are down 11.8% week-over-week, making this category one of the hardest in this report. Sales in this category decreased by the largest percentage overall, down 36.6% since the baseline week. 

However, average transaction size for service providers are up 39.4% over the baseline, indicating a shift in priorities for the types of services rendered by the businesses in this category in the wake of coronavirus/COVID-19. With sales and businesses decreasing yet transaction size increasing, we took a closer look at activity within Professional Services industries to learn more.

The types of professional service providers that have been most impacted over the past five weeks are:

  • Advertising agencies: down 60%
  • Child daycare services: down 75%
  • Photography studios: down 88%
  • Travel agencies: down 98%

Meanwhile, the services industries which have been least impacted are:

  • Business services: down 18%
  • Accounting, Audit services, and tax preparation: down 16%
  • Protective and security services: down 16%
  • Funeral services: down 7%
  • Insurance sales: up 11%

Week-over-week change in sales by business type

Next, we take a look at the overall change in sales at small businesses since March 2.

Each category in our deep dive is down since the week of March 2, but there are some bright spots in the week-over-week data:

  • Clothing and apparel: up 36.6% week-over-week
  • Arts and creative goods: up 31.6%
  • Specialty retail: up 2.1%

Sales by urban density

Next, we examine how urban density affects the change in sales due to coronavirus/COVID-19. We break down urban density into four buckets:

  • Large cities: Metropolitan areas with a population of 5 million and above
  • Medium cities: Populations of 1-5 million people
  • Small cities: Urban areas with fewer than 1 million people
  • Rural areas

Urban areas continue to experience the steepest decline in total percentage-point sales, down 7.8% last week and 31.3% from our baseline. While business activity in rural areas remains 24% below the baseline, sales have been stable for two weeks (up 1% week-over-week).

Small businesses increase billing by invoices

Next, we see how small businesses are adapting to coronavirus/COVID-19 as seen through payment method. The three ways US consumers typically use credit cards for in-person transactions are:

  • Magnetic stripe
  • Chip card
  • Contactless tap (contactless card or smart phone)

Each of these in-person payment methods has fallen since the baseline week of March 2 as overall in-person sales have declined.

Payments collected through invoices have continued to grow at a steady clip, as more small businesses accept payments in a way that promotes social distancing and doesn’t require close physical proximity.


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.

More about our methodology

To create this report, we analyzed a representative sample of hundreds of thousands of transactions processed from March 2 to April 5, 2020, by:

  • 60,000 small businesses 
  • 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. It is updated on a regular basis tracking specific indicators including: shifts in consumer spending among local businesses; impacts across different industries, and across cities and states. 

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.

Never miss a new report

Get every CardFlight Small Business Impact Report sent straight to your inbox. Unsubscribe any time.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Stay up-to-date

Don't miss information about new products, company announcements, and more. Signup for updates today.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.