Sales overall increased by nearly 13% last week, making it the best week for small businesses in the past month. Even with the increase, sales last week were still down 20% over the baseline week of March 2–8. However, the increase in week-over-week sales is an encouraging sign that small businesses are continuing to find ways to drive business forward and adapt to nationwide social distancing guidelines.
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 19, 2020 by 60,000 small businesses who use CardFlight’s SwipeSimple software to accept credit and debit card payments. Learn more about our methodology.
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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.
For the first time since we began the Small Business Impact Report, sales at small businesses increased by a double-digit percentage point last week.
Not only is it a noteworthy increase compared to the week prior, it also represents a reversal from the preceding 21 days, when sales were down an average of 27.5% compared to the baseline.
Another positive sign of activity at small businesses is that the number of transactions were up nearly 18% — the first time we’ve seen double-digit percentage point growth in transaction count since the baseline week of March 2–8.
This suggests small businesses continue to find new ways to adapt and serve their customers during the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis.
The dollar amount of the average transaction remains up by more than 30% over the baseline week of March 2–8. This continues the trend of greater transaction sizes we’ve seen since the beginning of the Small Business Impact Report.
The number of small businesses who were open for business has steadily decreased since the baseline week of March 2–8. Last week reversed that trend: 4.3% more businesses were open than the preceding week. This increase was driven in part by the retail category, which saw a 6% increase in open businesses compared to the previous week.
Of the small businesses that were open, the transaction count also increased by 13%. That makes last week the biggest increase in both active merchants and transactions per merchant we’ve seen since the beginning of the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis.
In this section of the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report, we take a closer look at small business performance by vertical (business category).
The three categories broadly define a range of small businesses:
We’ve been tracking the change in sales across three critical verticals since March 2: food and drink, retail, and services. Last week is the first week since the baseline in which all three categories registered positive week-over-week growth.
Next, we turn to change in transaction count by the same three business categories.
The following business categories have seen two or more consecutive weeks of growth:
The number of transactions in these business categories are down compared to the baseline week, but by relatively modest amounts compared to their peer categories (measured by total percentage-point change of +/– 20%).
The following business categories are down the most compared to the baseline week of March 2, 2020:
Now let’s see how urban density affects the change in sales due to coronavirus/COVID-19. We break down urban density into four buckets:
Over the previous week, rural areas continued to be the least impacted by the effects of COVID-19, down just 9% from the baseline after a 19.8% increase in sales last week. Although urban areas are still at least 14% below the baseline, 91% of the overall increase in sales last week came from these areas.
One way the businesses in our sample are adapting to the impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 and the social distancing guidelines that accompany it are by an increased reliance on invoices — which don’t require physical contact to accept secure credit card payments. Payments via invoices are up by nearly 95% since the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.
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You may also view past editions of the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report.
To create this report, we analyzed a representative sample of millions of transactions processed from March 2 to April 19, 2020, by:
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 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.