Visa Small Business Spend Insights Q2 - 2012

Visa® Small Business Spend Insights monitors the economic confidence of U.S. small business owners
by analyzing Visa Business card spend data and responses to a quarterly survey. Small businesses and
those serving them can benefit from the trends and insights obtained from Visa’s proprietary research.

Record shifts in key categories highlight mixed responses

Small business owners’ economic outlook appears to be changing based on responses to the most recent survey.  Confidence in greater profits is at its highest level since 2Q08 and the number of business owners reporting concern about attracting new customers is at its lowest level since 4Q07. Additionally, concerns over managing cash flow and staying in business are both at all-time lows. The overall outlook, however, remains guarded. Confidence in the strength of the economy dipped slightly and even some of the dramatic shifts in other categories included more neutral responses than positive. 

people eating at restaurantEnergy spending concerns fall dramatically 

While small businesses continue to report a high level of concern over energy spending, it has dropped to its lowest level since this survey began. At 43 percent, this is the largest quarter-over-quarter shift in this category and only the second time this metric has dropped below 50 percent. This category is of great importance to most small business owners since energy spending can be a significant part of a business’s operating budget.

Renewed spending plans may also indicate a changing outlook

Business owners appear to be preparing for growth in ways they haven’t reported in quite some time. Confidence in increasing inventory along with spending more on advertising and marketing are at their highest levels in this survey’s history. Additionally, more business owners report plans to make small capital investments than since 3Q09, continuing a trend that was first identified in 4Q11 through Visa Business card spend data.

Business owners are more confident about accessing and using credit

More business owners than ever before report they believe the cost of financing will remain low and the number who expect to borrow money jumped considerably. This change in attitude is also reflected in shifting viewpoints on credit card use. Preference for making payments with credit cards is at its highest level since this survey began. In fact, respondents report they anticipate increasing use of credit cards more than any other payment method.