Over the past week, states began to roll back social distancing limitations and permitted a wider range of businesses to open. And we saw that roll back reflected in our small business sales data. This week’s report increases across all of the major business categories we track and total sales continue to increase and this past week grew 10.6%.
This increase was realized in food and drink, retail and services. Food and drink and retail sales have returned to the baseline levels, up 3.3% and 0.5% respectively.
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, and others.
The report is based on analysis of a representative sample of over one million transactions processed from March 2 to May 10, 2020 by more than 60,000 small businesses who use CardFlight’s SwipeSimple software to accept credit and debit card payments. Learn more about our methodology.
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.
Sales at the small businesses in our sample were up week-over-week by double-digit percentage points for the second week in a row. This week’s sales at small businesses were just 3.3% below the baseline week (March 2–8, 2020).
Transaction counts at small businesses continued their steady rise, up 12.5% week-over-week.
While the growth in transaction count slowed from last week's 19.1% week-over-week increase, it's now just 13.6% lower than the baseline pre-COVID-19 week of March 2–8.
The number of active merchants continues to grow weekly. Active merchants, defined as small businesses who conducted at least one transaction, are now down 17% overall from the baseline week, compared to the low of nearly 30% we reported in mid-April.
This week's rise was driven primarily by the retail business category, which was up 8.4% week-over-week.
The average number of transactions per active merchant was up 7% week-over-week. The average transaction count per merchant metric is now above the baseline week of March 2–8 by 4.1%. This seems to indicate that while the number of active merchants still remains well below the baseline week, those who are open are increasingly effective in closing sales and business.
In this section of the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report, we take a closer look at small business performance by business category:
Sales in the food and drink category were the hardest hit business category we track in the Small Business Impact Report, which makes the category's return to baseline level all the more remarkable.
Transaction counts were up by 2.7% over the baseline week and up 8.7% week-over-week.
Sales in the retail category also returned to their baseline levels, up 0.5% last week compared to March 2–8. Sales in this category also showed strong week-over-week growth, up nearly 20% since last week.
Transaction counts also continued their recovery, down just 6.6% over the baseline week. This metric also saw marked week-over-week improvement, up nearly 18% compared to the week of April 27–May 3.
The services business category continues to be down over the baseline by 12.1%. However, the sector has experienced four consecutive weeks of growth.
Transaction counts remain far below the baseline, down nearly 32% compared to the week of March 2–8, 2020. While this metric still has a ways to go before they reach the pre-COVID-19 baseline, transaction counts were up nearly 11% week-over-week.
In this section, we classify business change by three different measures.
Sales at certain small businesses have remained stable since the week of March 2–8, staying within plus or minus 20% of the baseline week.
The following businesses saw significant decreases in the first few weeks of our reporting, but have now seen an increase in sales for at least four of the past five weeks. Specialty retail had another strong weekly increase in sales of 27%, and are now 41.8% above the baseline week.
The following businesses saw a rapid decline in sales initially, but have now seen increases over the past three weeks. We will continue to watch these categories in the weeks ahead.
To create this report, we analyzed a representative sample of millions of transactions processed from March 2 to May 10, 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.