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Bank of America Payments and Spending Data Shows Continued Small Business Resiliency

Small business

The Bank of America Institute released a new publication which finds continued resilience in small businesses. New Bank of America small business data shows that, despite economic headwinds, small businesses continue to strengthen in a variety of areas, including credit and debit card spending, business travel expenditures and payroll payments. Overall small business payments per client increased 11% year over year in August, up from 3% year over year in the prior month. Card spending per client increased 13% year over year last month, outpacing July’s 7% growth rate.

One important reason for the continued resiliency in small businesses is the return of business travel. According to the US Travel Association, business travel accounted for more than a quarter of total travel spending in the US prior to the pandemic. Bank of America internal data indicates that the number of travel transactions per small business client is at 90% of the 2019 annual average, the highest level since the pandemic began. This includes airlines, lodging, cruise lines, travel agency, car rental and other transportation. Furthermore, small business card spending per client for travel increased 31% year over year in August, up from 19% in July.

Small businesses also continue to see strength in payroll payments. The average overall payroll spend per client was up 11% year over year in July on a 3-month rolling average, suggesting robust hiring and wage growth momentum. Restaurant and bar payroll payments are easing from recent highs, down to a still resilient 18% year over year in August.

Other highlights of the publication include:

  • Small business card spending varied greatly across annual income tiers, and small businesses with greater annual revenues spent at a faster pace than those with lower annual revenues.
  • For small businesses with annual sales revenue higher than $1 million, card spending per client for travel was up the most, at 43% year over year in August. This increase was partially due to a reversal of the depressed levels of spending on business travel last August due to the spread of the Delta variant.
  • After-tax wages based on the internal Bank of America consumer deposit data for small business clients were up 6.1% year over year on a 3-month rolling basis in August (for more please see our latest Consumer Checkpoint). This outpaces data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which finds that average hourly earnings for August increased by 5.2% year-over-year.

“Despite economic headwinds like high inflation, small businesses are heading into the fall with cautious optimism,” said Anna Zhou, economist for the Bank of America Institute. “We see things like the rebound in small business travel and resilience in payroll payments as further evidence the economy is getting back on track.”

Source: Bank of America

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