CardFlight Small Business Impact Report for April 29, 2020

Sales were flat but transactions increased by 6%, maintaining an important trend line that bodes well for small businesses

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Introduction

Sales at small businesses were relatively flat week-over-week, down 1.2% over the previous week. This marks a relatively modest decrease compared to other weeks since the coronavirus/COVID-19 shutdown began.

Meanwhile, week-over-week sales were flat, but transactions increased yet again, this time by 6.3%, maintaining an important trend line that bodes well for small businesses.

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 is based on analysis of a representative sample of over one million transactions processed from March 2 to April 26, 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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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.

Sales at small businesses relatively stable

Small businesses largely preserved the gains they earned over the previous week, when overall sales grew by nearly 13%.

Although week-over-week sales were only down 1.3% over the previous week, they're still down 21.3% from the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020, demonstrating the significant impact from shelter in place guidelines across the country.

Transaction count up 6.3%

Another positive sign of activity at small businesses is that the number of transactions were up 6% — continuing the positive trend we saw in last week's report when transaction count grew 18% week-over-week. This growth was driven largely by the categories of food and drink and retail, which we'll dive into later in the report.

Overall transaction counts are down 35% since the baseline week, but the recent steady growth in transaction counts suggests small businesses are continuing to find new ways to adapt to social distancing restrictions.

Average transaction size up 22% over baseline

As transaction volumes increase, the dollar amount of the average transaction is headed toward baseline levels. Last week, average ticket sizes fell to 22% over the baseline week of March 2–8.

As the retail and food and drink categories have been growing consistently over the same time period, those types of businesses tend to have lower average transaction values which bring down the average transaction size. Although the decrease may seem like a negative indicator, it's actually pointing to a positive overall trend of average transaction volumes headed toward pre-shutdown levels.

Active merchants up for second consecutive week

More small businesses posted transactions in the last week than the preceding, although overall active businesses in our sample are down nearly 26% compared to the baseline week of March 2–8, 2020.

Of the businesses that were open, transaction counts increased by 6.3%, which continues a three-week trend of positive growth in this metric.


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 (business category).

The three categories broadly define a range of small businesses:

  • Food and drink establishments: Includes bars and restaurants
  • Service providers: General contractors, healthcare providers, providers of professional services, and others
  • Retail: Businesses like sporting goods stores, specialty retail, home furnishings, automotive

This week, we found that:

  • Sales at food and drink businesses continue to rebound from the lows we reported in mid-March. Sales increased 12% week-over-week, and are now down just 11% over the baseline week.
  • After a strong uptick last week, retail sales are down 17% week-over-week
  • Sales in the services category are up 5.2% week-over-week. Sales in the services vertical remain the hardest hit since the baseline week of March 2–8.


Next, we turn to change in transaction count by the same three business categories.

  • Transaction count at food and drink establishments increased by 12%
  • Retail transaction counts are up 10%
  • Transaction counts in the services category are flat

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 millions of transactions processed from March 2 to April 26, 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.

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