Capital Access Network Reports Continued Improvement for Restaurant Sector - Small Business Retailers and Service Businesses Struggle

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Capital Access Network, Inc.'s (CAN) Data Services Division’s Small Business Credit Sales (SBCS) Report reveals a continuing lift in year-over-year (YoY) card sales in the restaurant sector as Main Street eateries reported an impressive 1.8 percent increase over recorded Q4 2010 card sales. These sales are reflective of an increase in outstanding revolving consumer credit, as reported by the Federal Reserve in its January 9, 2012 G19 Consumer Credit Report.

Capital Access Network, Inc.'s (CAN) Data Services Division’s Small Business Credit Sales (SBCS) Report reveals a continuing lift in year-over-year (YoY) card sales in the restaurant sector as Main Street eateries reported an impressive 1.8 percent increase over recorded Q4 2010 card sales. These sales are reflective of an increase in outstanding revolving consumer credit, as reported by the Federal Reserve in its January 9, 2012 G19 Consumer Credit Report.

The restaurant sector has demonstrated five consecutive quarters of positive card sales, but for the first time since Q1 2011 all categories of “average ticket size” are reporting a lift. “Fine dining” led the way with a 4.3 percent increase, with restaurants processing average tickets of $50 to $100 reporting a 2.5 percent increase. While November YoY figures showed declines in three out of four ticket categories, December proved to be a strong month for sales across all ticket categories, resulting in an overall quarterly increase.

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) overall continue to lose ground as YoY card sales declined 2.8 percent in Q4 2011, but for the second straight quarter the rate of decline improved. While restaurants fared better in Q4 2011 compared to Q4 2010, SMB retailers and service providers have reported an accelerated decline for two quarters. Additionally, SMBs overall captured a lesser share of outstanding revolving consumer credit, indicating buyers are choosing to spend at larger businesses and online. Pockets of positive YoY card sales are evident in some MSA's, such as those with a population less than 100,000, as well as regions of the country, specifically the Southwest.

“The good news is that restaurants have demonstrated a sustained ability to grow year-over-year card sales across a variety of restaurant categories. The bad news is that outstanding revolving consumer credit has been increasing, but small businesses have lost ground the past two months as consumers swiped their cards at Big Box and online establishments instead of at their local, smaller retailer,” said Glenn Goldman, CEO of Capital Access Network, Inc. "We will look for additional growth next quarter in sectors demonstrating strength, including the least populated areas of the U.S., where year-over-year card sales lifted into positive territory."

The findings were released today in CAN's Q4 2011 Small Business Credit Sales Report (SBCS Report) and are available at http://www.capitalaccessnetwork.com/sbcsreport.html.

Key findings of the report include:
1.    For the seventeenth straight quarter, small businesses’ Q4 2011 year-over-year (YoY) card sales declined (2.8%), but for the second straight quarter, the rate of decline improved.

SPOTLIGHT: After recovering some of their lost share of outstanding revolving consumer credit, it appears that Main Street businesses may be losing ground again. According to Federal Reserve reporting, outstanding revolving consumer credit increased on a month over month basis in September 0.7%, again in October 1.0%, and is projected to have increased 8.5% in November 2011. Small business card sales declined 0.8%, 2.0% and 5.4% on a YoY basis during those same months, respectively, indicating consumers are using their available credit at other establishments - potentially larger or online businesses. (All Federal Reserve figures taken from their January 9, 2012 Statistical Release, G.19 Consumer Credit.)

2.    Restaurants continued to gain, producing the fifth consecutive quarter of positive card sales, tallying a 1.8% YoY lift over card sales recorded in Q4 2010. In contrast, Main Street retailers and service business continued to struggle, reporting a 5.8% decrease in cards sales from Q4 2011. In Q3, 2011, same store card sales had dropped 5.6% from Q3 2010 levels.

SPOTLIGHT: For the first time in three quarters, all categories of “average ticket size” within the restaurant group reported positive Q4 2011 card sales, led by an increase of 4.3% among “fine dining” restaurants (average ticket size of $100+). Restaurants with an average ticket of $50-$100 followed with an increase of 2.5%. Restaurants with an average ticket under $25 saw card sales increase 2.1%, and the $25 to $50 category saw a 0.7% increase. After November YoY declines in three out of four ticket categories, December sales indicated a strong upturn, with increases ranging from 4.5% (for restaurants with an average ticket size of $25 to $50) up to 9.0% (for restaurants with an average ticket size of $100+).

3.    Metropolitan areas (MSAs*) with a population size less than 100,000 saw card sales increase by 1.0% -- the first time this MSA has moved into positive territory since Q3 2008. Areas with larger populations continued to show larger declines in YoY card sales in Q4 2011 compared to smaller cities, towns and rural areas. MSAs with a population size of 250,000-999,999 reported a decrease in card sales of 4.6%, while card sales in MSAs with a population of 1 million+ decreased 2.7%. Comparatively, card sales in towns/smaller cities (population size 100,000 – 249,999) decreased 0.7%.

4.    Almost all regions reported YoY card sales declines, with the Southwest Region proving to be an exception with a card sales increase of 1.2%. The other seven regions reported card sales declines in a range of 1.3% (Great Lakes Region) to 4.4% (Rocky Mountain Region).

5.    Over time, results within the “Time in Business” (TIB) categories have juggled between one another, and did so again this quarter. While all TIB categories processed fewer card sales than this quarter last year, more established businesses (15+ years in business) declined less (1.7%) than younger businesses, which had a decline range of 2.6% to 4.4%.

6.    In a sampling of accounts, men-owned businesses’ Q4 2011 YoY card sales declined 1.65% compared to their female counterpart’s decline of 2.4%.

*Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the Office of Management and Budget based on the U.S. Census Bureau data.

About Small Business Credit Sales (SBCS) Report
The Small Business Credit Sales (SBCS) Report is a quarterly report highlighting credit and signature debit card sales trends within small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) nationwide. Sponsored by the Data Services Division of Capital Access Network, Inc. (CAN), a New York-based financial technology company, the SBCS Report features analysis of credit and debit card sales trends based on same store card sales data housed in CAN’s data warehouses, which retain 12 years of data and include more than 50,000 businesses and the “daily” card sales data collected from more than 80,000 working capital transactions from online and “brick and mortar” businesses. Most same store sales retail reports focus on or include data from big-box retail and nationwide/regional department stores, either ignoring or obscuring the trends of the majority of SMBs. The SBCS Report was designed to assist business owners, the processing industry, associations, analysts and media interested in tracking and benchmarking credit and debit card sales trends among SMBs.

To receive the quarterly reports automatically via email, interested parties can sign up at
http://www.capitalaccessnetwork.com/sbcsreport.html, or simply send an email to dnaczi(at)CapitalAccessNetwork(dot)com.

About Capital Access Network, Inc.
Capital Access Network, Inc. (CAN) delivers innovative “Daily Remittance” powered financial products and services for small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) in the U.S. and SMB capital providers internationally. Daily Remittance financial products enable the delivery of more capital to the right small businesses while decreasing provider risk. CAN and its subsidiaries offer transaction request and fulfillment capabilities through multiple channel options which can be white-labeled or co-branded, including online applications and unique web-based social resources, tools, data and information. Learn more at http://www.CapitalAccessNetwork.com, http://www.AdvanceMe.com and http://www.NewLogicBusinessLoans.com.

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Diane Naczi

Carrie Crabill
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