CardFlight Small Business Impact Report for May 13, 2020

Sales down just 3.3% over the baseline week; number of active merchants grew for the 3rd straight week.

Introduction

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.

Key takeaways from this week’s report

  • Small business sales are now just 3.3% below the baseline week
  • Transaction counts have grown for the past four weeks
  • Active merchants grew for the third consecutive week
  • Recovery momentum continues in certain business types

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 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.

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Week-over-week changes

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 small businesses up 10.6% week-over-week

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 up 12.5% week-over-week

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.


Number of active small businesses up 5.2% week-over-week

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.

Deep dive: Sales by business category

In this section of the CardFlight Small Business Impact Report, we take a closer look at small business performance by business category:

  • 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

Sales at food and drink businesses up 3.3% over pre-COVID-19 baseline week

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.

Retail sales up 19.4% 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.

Services continue to grow with weekly sales up 10.7%

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.

Business outlook

In this section, we classify business change by three different measures.

Businesses that are holding steady

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.

  • Automotive retail: this week’s sales were +0.1% of the baseline
  • Automotive repair: down 7.6%
  • Other transportation: down 13.4%
  • On-site technical services: up 14.5%
  • Repair shops: up 4.1%

Business that were hit hard, but are now showing momentum

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.

  • Food and drink held steady last week and is now at 3.3% above baseline.
  • Healthcare weekly sales increased by 35%, the largest increase to date, and is now at 23.9% below the baseline.
  • Home furnishings grew 18.3% over last week and is now at 25.9% below baseline (up from the –51.4% low point)


Businesses to watch

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.

  • Entertainment and recreation: three weeks of growth and now down 37.6% below baseline
  • Salons and barbershops: another strong weekly increase and now 67.1% below baseline
  • Health and beauty spas: added to the watch list for the first time after two strong week-over-week increases, now down 60.8% over baseline



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.

Our methodology

To create this report, we analyzed a representative sample of millions of transactions processed from March 2 to May 10, 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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