pexels-karolina-grabowska-5632371_ inflation

How Industries Are Impacted by Supply, Demand and Inflation

pexels-karolina-grabowska-5632371_ inflationIt’s definitely not your imagination: Prices are going up — in some cases, rather shockingly. The most recent consumer price index (CPI) data, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday, revealed that the country’s overall CPI increased 0.9 percent in June, and that’s after rising a hearty 0.6 percent in May.

June’s increase was the largest one-month change since June 2008 when the index rose 1.0 percent. Looking at June 2021 versus year ago, prices are up 5.4 percent. That’s the largest 12-month increase we’ve seen in this county since the 5.4 percent increase for the 12-month period ending in August 2008.

Inflation hits consumers’ wallets

Are these price increases good news or bad? I suppose it depends on your perspective, but the reasons behind these increases are many. For instance, the good news is that, as vaccination rates increase, the pandemic subsides, and the economy steadily opens back up, things are returning to some degree of normalcy, creating more demand from consumers for goods and services.

But, on the other hand, the challenge this creates is that consumer demand is rising faster than some industries’ ability to respond with adequate supply. This scenario is putting pressure on suppliers and thus driving up prices.

Increased shipping costs are also a major contributing factor to these CPI increases. With fewer containers coming into the country‘s ports it means lead times for products from Asia are extended and shipping costs also go up, which are then passed along to the consumer. And it’s not just Asian goods that are feeling the pinch. Coffee and tea coming in from Brazil, for example, have seen shipping costs go up 200 to 300 percent.

Prices surging in many industries

Let’s take a look at some specific industries that are seeing notable impacts to supply and demand and thus are seeing price increases.

New vehicles

After rising 1.6 percent from April to May of this year, the CPI for new vehicles rose another 2.0 percent from May to June. That is the index’s largest one-month increase since May 1981. The index for new vehicles rose 5.3 percent over the past 12 months, which is the largest 12-month increase since the period ending January 1987.

The average new vehicle transaction price increased 1.2 percent month over month to $41,263 in May (+$493) and was up 5.4% (+$2,125) year over year. Much of this supply and demand push-pull has been created by automobile manufacturing supply chain challenges, with certain essential parts in short supply.

While prices are up over the past year, sales were just 14.5 million units in 2020, down 15 percent as compared to 2019. It was the fourth-largest annual decline since at least 1980. Several industry analysts and forecasters expect new auto sales to increase about 6.9 percent to around 15.5 million for 2021.

Used cars and trucks

With fewer people buying new cars, the supply of used vehicles also shrunk just as demand for used cars and trucks went up, creating a striking price hike. The CPI for used cars and trucks increased 45.2 percent year-over-year for June, the largest 12-month change ever reported for that index. From May to June of this year alone, prices were up 10.5 percent.

Profits also increased for many used vehicle dealers in 2020, despite lower sales volumes. The limited supply and increasing prices of new cars, coupled with economic conditions that squeezed many household budgets, led to higher demand for pre-owned vehicles. As prices went up, so too did the per-vehicle gross profit, increasing 13 percent year over year as a result.

Airlines

As of July 1, 2021, all U.S. states except for Hawaii were fully reopened, according to The New York Times, and people are ready to take to the friendly skies once again. In fact, according to a spring 2021 survey by Deloitte, 40 percent of Americans plan to take a trip that includes a flight and a stay in paid lodging between Memorial Day and the end of September.

In addition, global business aviation activity in June 2021 rose 10 percent compared to June 2019, pre-pandemic, according to WingX. U.S. business aviation departures over the 2021 Fourth of July weekend were 44 percent higher than the same weekend in 2019.

As a result of this increased demand, the CPI for airline fares rose 2.7 percent from May to June; that’s after increasing 7.0 percent from April to May. Looking at year-over-year numbers for June, fares are up 24.6 percent as demand surges.

Apparel

In addition to travelling, people are ready for some new additions to their wardrobes after a year in lockdown. Some clothing industry insiders report an uptick in store traffic and consumer interest in updated fashions as vaccine distribution has surpassed initial expectations. The CEO of Gap Inc. said she expects consumers to embrace “peacocking” — showing off new looks amid warmer weather and a broader reopening of the economy.

As a result, clothing and accessory store sales increased a whopping 81.3 percent in the first five months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The CPI for apparel increased 0.7 percent from May to June following a 1.2 percent rise between April and May. These numbers were particularly bolstered by increases in the prices of women’s dresses (up 5 percent in June), women’s outwear (up 2.1 percent), and infants’ and toddlers’ apparel (up 2.1 percent). Compared to June of 2020, overall apparel prices are up 4.9 percent.

Gasoline

The quarantines and business closures prompted by COVID-19 greatly reduced demand for oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel in most of 2020. Oversupply in the market and reduced demand from worldwide quarantines drove the U.S. spot price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude to a low of $3.32 per barrel for the week ending April 24, 2020, down from $63 at the start of 2020.

But more people are now back behind the wheel. As measured by vehicle miles driven, travel on U.S. roads and streets increased by more than 54 percent in April 2021 compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

As demand grows from more people returning to the office and taking to the roads for vacations, gasoline prices are also increasing. Gas prices averaged $3.06 on June 26, 2021, which is up from $3.03 on June 1 of this year and $2.13 a year earlier, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The gasoline CPI rose 2.5 percent in June after falling 0.7 percent in May. However, the gasoline index rose 45.1 percent since June 2020. U.S. fuel demand is expected to improve over the summer as the COVID-19 pandemic decreases in severity, the economy improves, and consumers spend their stimulus dollars.

Keeping perspective on price increases

While the latest CPI revealed that prices rose in nearly every category, there were a few outliers: medical care commodities and household furnishings did see a decrease in prices in June, for example.

But it’s also important to keep these price fluctuations in perspective. In some cases, there are indeed industries that had CPI increases that put their prices higher than they’ve been in a long time (if ever). However, on the flip side, prices on many goods and services dropped so much this time last year that, yes, they are going up, but when you look more closely, they are still lower than they were a year ago.

You can learn more about how these and other industries have been impacted by COVID-19 by visiting our free COVID-19 webpage.

Image credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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retail sales rebound; shopping bag

As States Reopen, Retail Is Looking for a Rebound

retail rebound; shopping bagSeasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims for the week ending June 12 were 412,000. That marks an increase of 37,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level, but perhaps most notably, the four-week moving average was the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 — the week pandemic shutdowns began in the U.S.  The insured unemployment rate was 2.5 percent for the week ending June 5, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

Retail sales on the rise

One vertical that was particularly hard-hit by pandemic-related closures in 2020 was the retail sector, including clothing and accessories stores (-26.4 percent), department stores (-18.1 percent), gasoline stations (-15.9 percent), electronics and appliance stores (-14.6 percent), and furniture and home furnishings stores (-5.4 percent).

But things may finally be looking up for the retail sector. In the first four months of 2021, the retail sector saw strong gains as more of the U.S. economy reopened. In fact, all major subsectors of the retail sector saw sales rise in the first four months of 2021 (though they experienced a 1.3 percent dip in May).

Major increases included motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 44.6 percent compared to January through April 2020); sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and bookstores (+59.4 percent); clothing and clothing accessories stores (+57.7 percent), furniture and home furnishings stores (+45.3 percent), and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+25.5 percent). However, year-over-year retail comparisons are skewed higher by the stay-at-home orders and nonessential retail closures that began in March and April 2020.

Retail jobs returning

As a whole, the retail sector lost more than 2 million jobs in April 2020. Among the hardest hit were clothing and clothing accessories stores; motor vehicle and parts dealers; furniture stores; sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores; and department stores.

But here again, it looks like the sector may have turned around. By August of 2020, all retail sectors had returned to positive job growth. Retail employment has since seen steady growth. Retail employment in May 2021 rose 4.6 percent over the prior month and was up 11.4 percent compared to May 2020. Retail employment in May 2021 was down less than 2 percent compared to the pre-pandemic level of February 2020.

Supply chain challenges & curbside’s appeal

Remember those empty toilet paper shelves? Early in the pandemic, grocery and drug stores, as well as mass merchandisers like Walmart, Costco, and Target, all struggled to keep products on the shelves as consumers and businesses stockpiled goods in fear of shortages. In most cases, supply chains have since stabilized as some grocers reduced hours of operation and limited quantities that a single shopper can purchase.

Stores also controlled traffic in the store to allow for social distancing. Some retailers have allowed customers to purchase in-stock merchandise online, then pick it up curbside. Industry watchers expect curbside pick-up to have a long-term effect on store-based retailer strategy even after the pandemic eases. Curbside offers a hybrid model between ecommerce and traditional retail that satisfies consumers’ desire to visit stores, and shoppers take care of the “last mile” — the delivery step that is most costly for retailers.

Reopenings don’t necessarily mean a retail rally

Thanks to dropping COVID case numbers and rising vaccination rates, all states have taken steps toward reopening, including retail establishments. But there may have been a more permanent paradigm shift created by the pandemic that retails must address.

Some analysts suggest the brick-and-mortar retail sector was actually in a downturn before coronavirus. But the past year may have accelerated the decline as more and more consumers turned to online shopping to order groceries and pick them up curbside or have them delivered. Brick-and-mortar stores could see greater declines in foot traffic after the pandemic subsides as shoppers became more comfortable with online shopping during the quarantine and liked the convenience.

In part because of this change in consumers’ shopping habits, in 2020, the retail sector suffered its worst year for bankruptcies since 2010, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Malls and retailers of luxury and nonessential products – such as clothing, jewelry, and furniture – experienced steep declines in store traffic, and a number of high-profile retailers filed for bankruptcy.

A helping hand from Uncle Sam

In mid-March, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which included an additional $7.25 billion in funding for PPP. The plan also allocated $15 billion for targeted EIDL advance payments for businesses in low-income communities that have no more than 300 employees and have suffered financial losses of more than 30 percent.

In addition, the American Rescue Plan Act included several provisions aimed at putting more dollars in Americans’ pockets so they have the spending power to help the economy recover. Most Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks, and the $300 supplemental unemployment benefit was extended through August 29, 2021.

The new stimulus bill also expands an existing tax credit that will give most families with children a monthly check of $300 per child. Other provisions include changes to the earned income tax credit, premium tax credit, the child and dependent care credit, and student loans.

Of course, all of this has the end result of putting more money in American’s pockets, enabling them to spend more and bolster the U.S. economy. Time will tell if these efforts will pay off for businesses in the retail sector.

Understanding the bigger economic picture

All of the retail sector information in this post came directly from Vertical IQ’s free COVID-19 website, where you can learn more about how various industries and sectors continue to be impacted by COVID-19.

Image credit: Lucrezia Carnelos, Unsplash

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Vertical IQ’s Top Industry Profiles for Q1 2021

man at laptop with papersHere at Vertical IQ, we really dig data. That’s why our in-depth Industry Intelligence covers more than 90 percent of the businesses that comprise the U.S. economy. If you’re into facts and figures too, you might find it interesting to see which of our Industry Profiles were most popular during the first quarter of 2021. It offers a window into the industries that others are researching.

  1. Dental practices: The 136,400 dental practices in the U.S. are in the business of providing “oral health,” including hygiene or preventative care, restorative treatments, and oral surgery. Demand for dental services had been thought to be “recession-proof,” but the past recession and recent pandemic saw a drop in dental appointments and billings.
  2. Physician practices: The 212,000 physician practices in the U.S. consist of primary care and specialty practices. As a result of the pandemic, changes in revenue, employment, business practices, trade and forecasts are occurring rapidly within this industry.
  3. Trucking companies: The economic shock early in the pandemic forced a total of 3,140 out of the nation’s 109,500 trucking firms to close last year (compared to 1,100 that shut down in 2019). However strong Class 8 truck orders in January 2021 may indicate fleet operators are confident about future trucking demand.
  4. Law firms: The 163,500 law firms in the U.S. provide advocacy and advisory services to businesses, non-profit organizations, individuals, and government agencies. At least 15 of the nation’s 200 highest-grossing firms posted revenue or profit increases of more than 5 percent in 2020, and a third of internal legal departments say that they’re staffing up in preparation for a busy 2021.
  5. HVAC and plumbing contractors: Due in part to the expected surge in commercial renovations in 2021 tied to the 2020 CARES Act, 36 percent of construction contractors who responded to the first quarter U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index survey expect their revenue to increase during 2021, a jump of 11 percentage points from 25 percent in Q4 2020. Some 87 percent expect their revenue to either stay the same or increase, up from 86 percent last quarter.
  6. Restaurants: The nation’s 379,000 restaurants have been hard-hit by the pandemic. However, as of April 6, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program, which provides restaurants and other small businesses with working capital during the pandemic, raised its cap on loans from $150,000 to $500,000 and extended the term from 6 to 24 months.
  7. Lessors of residential buildings: The nation’s 52,200 lessors of residential buildings and dwellings lease single-family homes, apartment buildings, and townhomes. While the unemployment crisis spawned by the pandemic has created challenges, hope is on the horizon for struggling residential tenants. The CDC extended the national eviction moratorium through the end of June, and the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan signed into law in March includes $26 billion for rental assistance.
  8. Residential brokers and property managers: In February, sales of previously-owned homes increased 9.1 percent year over year but decreased 6.6 percent month over month. The median existing-home price for all housing types was up 15.8 percent year over year. Housing inventory remained at a record-low of 1.03 million units at the end of February, down by 29.5 percent year-over-year – a record decline. Properties typically sold in 20 days, also a record low.
  9. Commercial brokers and property managers: The national office vacancy rate increased to 18.2 percent in Q1 2021 from 17.7 percent in Q4 2020. Additionally, the pandemic-driven acceleration of e-commerce will be a key driver of an estimated 9 percent reduction in the number of bricks-and-mortar retail stores by 2026.
  10. Management consulting services: The 73,400 management consulting firms in the U.S. assist businesses and organizations with administrative, strategic, and management-related issues. Management consulting services industry employment was unchanged year over year in February but was up 6.2 percent from the pandemic-related low of April 2020, led by strong demand from state governments.
  11. Auto repair shops: The nation’s 82,700 automobile repair shops fix cars with mechanical problems or restore a vehicle after a collision. With December traffic volumes up 44 percent compared to the lows seen in April during the lockdowns, repair shops are beginning to experience a rise in demand as driving activity continues to normalize.
  12. Landscaping services: The landscaping industry performed well amid some tough market conditions in 2020. Revenue growth in the industry returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in June then gained steam in Q3 and hit record highs in Q4. Median revenue for landscaping companies was up 32 percent in December compared to the same month in 2019.

Want this kind of in-depth analysis on hundreds of industries?

All of the industry information in this post came directly from the respective Vertical IQ Industry Profile, including our free COVID-19 webpage. Reviewing the Industry Profile prior to a sales call, or even doing a quick five-minute review of the Call Prep Sheet, gives you valuable insights and enables you to have an industry-focused conversation with your client or prospect.

Ready to get started? Contact us today for more information or a demo!

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retail sales food services; store window withcoats

Retail and Food Services Sales Numbers Show Promise


retail sales food services; store window withcoatsThe U.S. Census Bureau recently released their January 2021 Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services report this past week. Adjusted for seasonal variation, January sales totaled $568.2 billion, representing a 5.3 percent increase over December’s revised numbers ($539.7 billion).

Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is the fact that January’s total was 7.4 percent above January 2020. On top of this, for the three-month period of November 2020 through January 2021, total sales were up 4.6 percent versus year ago. Could these numbers be harbingers of overall economic improvements? Let’s take a closer look at some of the data…

Good month-over-month news

Across the board, the retail and food sales numbers for January 2021 were higher than in December 2020. Among the biggest movers were furniture and home furnishing stores, which were up 12 percent, electronics and appliance stores, which saw a 14.7 percent increase, and department stores, which had a whopping 23 percent increase in month-over-month sales.

A few other areas to highlight:

Retail trade

Looking at the adjusted numbers for overall retail trade, January sales were up 5.1 percent from December 2020, from $488.58 million to $513.58 million. Comparing year-over year numbers, the news is also positive. Retail sales in January were up an impressive 10.8 percent versus year ago ($463.41 million).

Non-store retailers

It seems that Americans continue to be enthusiastic online shoppers. Non-store retailer sales — i.e., online sales — were up 28.7 percent year-over-year, increasing from $68.3 million in January 2020 to $87.9 million in January of this year.

But even after the busy online shopping holiday season, this sector’s sales have continued to increase, rising 11 percent between December 2020 ($79.2 million) and January 2021.

Sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and bookstores

Looks like Americans are still eager to spend money on their pastimes amid the pandemic. For January 2021, sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and bookstores were up an impressive 22.5 percent year-over-year to $8.17 million, compared to $6.7 million in January 2020. They were also up 8 percent over December 2020 ($7.6 million).

Some industries better than others year-over-year

Looking at January 2021 versus January 2020 reveals a somewhat more mixed picture.

In addition to the sectors mentioned above, sales in several industries increased markedly, such as building material and garden equipment supplies dealers, which were up 19 percent, from $33.67 million in January 2020 to $40.1 million in January of this year.

Other industries, while doing better month-over-month December 2020 to January 2021, are lagging behind when compared to sales in January of last year.

  • Department stores: Down 3 percent versus January 2020
  • Electronic and appliances stores: Down 3.5 percent year-over-year for January
  • Gasoline stations: Down 7.8 percent as compared to January 2020
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores: Down 11.1 percent for January versus last year
  • Food services and drinking places: Down 16 percent as compared to January 2020’s numbers

Improving slowly but surely

Overall, January was a good month for businesses in the retail and food services sector with all industry segments showing growth versus December 2020’s sales figures. While the news was somewhat mixed when looking at January 2021 versus 2020 numbers, the overall picture for the food and retail sector looks promising. Here’s hoping this upward trend continues!

You can learn more about how these and other industries have been impacted by COVID-19 by visiting our free COVID-19 webpage.

 

Image credit: Jordan Nix, Unsplash

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Final Small Business Pulse Survey of 2020 a Mixed Bag


open sign on the door of a businessThe week 26 results from phase three of the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey were released last week, revealing year-end 2020 data on how the pandemic is impacting small businesses.

To participate in this survey, a business must be a non-farm, single-location entity and must have receipts greater than or equal to $1,000, but 500 employees or fewer. The survey includes information for the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). It captures data on:

  • > Small business operations and finances
  • > Requests and receipt of assistance
  • > Measures of overall well-being and expectations for recovery

Let’s take a look at some of the survey results from week 26, Dec. 28, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021.

Overall, numbers are steady

The first question in the weekly survey is, “Overall, how has this business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?” For week 26, 30.3 percent of small business respondents reported a “large negative effect.”

Throughout phase three of the survey, this number has remained within a narrow range, reaching a high of 31 percent for the week of Nov. 23 — Nov. 29 and a low of 29.7 percent for both the week of Nov. 9 — Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 — Nov. 22.

Interestingly, this number was at its highest in phase 1, week 1 of the Pulse Survey, April 26 — May 2. That week, 51.4 percent of survey respondents said the pandemic has had a “large negative effect” on their business. Since then, the figure has gradually trended down and then flattened out to the current level.

Slight improvements for hardest-hit industries

According to these latest numbers for Dec. 28, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021, the most severely affected industry segments continue to be:

  • > Accommodation and food services (66.9 percent answering “large negative effect”)
    • – This sector was at 67.2 percent responding “large negative effect” the previous week (Dec. 21 — Dec. 27).
    • – For the last week in June (June 21 — 27), this sector was at 70.5 percent reporting a “large negative effect” from the pandemic.
  • > Arts, entertainment, and recreation (60.3 percent answering “large negative effect”)
    • – The previous week, 55.4 percent of respondents in this sector reported the pandemic has caused a “large negative effect.”
    • – In late June (June 21 — 27), however, 68.2 of survey respondents in this sector said they’d experienced a “large negative effect” from the pandemic, so overall, this number is trending downward.
  • > Educational services (56.2 percent answering “large negative effect”)
    • – This sector was at 56.9 percent responding “large negative effect” for the week of Dec. 21 — Dec. 27.
    • – The last week in June (June 21 — 27), 59.1 percent of respondents in this sector reported a “large negative effect” from the pandemic.

So, while many businesses in these and other verticals continue to struggle as a result of the pandemic, the percentage of those saying the pandemic is causing a “large negative effect” for the week does continue to gradually decrease overall.

Geographical differences

Broken out by geography, the latest survey reveals geographical differences for pandemic impacts to businesses. For the week of Dec. 28, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021, the locations with the most respondents reporting a “large negative effect” to their business as a result of the pandemic were:

  • > Washington, D.C., where 42.7 percent of respondents note that the pandemic has had a “large negative effect” on their business.
    • – This is down from 47.6 for the week of (Dec. 21 — 27).
    • – It is also markedly down from 56.3 percent in the last week in June (June 21 — 27).
  • > New York, with 40.6 percent of respondents saying the pandemic has had a “large negative effect.”
    • – This percentage is down from 41.8 percent the previous week.
    • – It is also down from 50.7 percent of respondents saying this at the end of June.
  • > Hawaii, which had 3 percent of respondents report the pandemic has had a “large negative effect” on their business.
    • – This number is down substantially from late June when 54.2 percent of businesses said the pandemic has had a “large negative effect.”
  • > New Mexico, with 37.7 percent of respondents saying the pandemic has had a “large negative effect.”
    • – This figure is up fairly sharply from the previous week (Dec. 21 — 27) when just 31 percent of respondents in New Mexico noted a “large negative effect” from the pandemic.
    • – In late June, 33.5 percent of businesses said this.

At the state level, you can see that businesses in many (though not all) states are improving in their perception of how badly the pandemic has impacted their business.

Fluctuating revenue

One question on the survey is, “In the last week, did this business have a change in operating revenues/sales/receipts, not including any financial assistance or loans?” For the week of Dec. 28, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021, 41.8 percent of respondents said that their revenue is down. For comparison, in the late June survey, 42. 6 percent of respondents said revenue was down.

Interestingly, the bigger change is in those reporting that revenue is up for their business. For the most recent survey, just 5.7 percent of respondents noted an increase in the business’s revenue. At the end of June (June 21 — 27), 19.7 percent of survey respondents had reported an increase in revenue.

A majority of businesses, 52.5 percent, report no change in their revenue for the most recent survey, however. Back in late June, 37.8 percent said this.

An economic snapshot

The Pulse Survey allows you to slice and dice its data in a number of ways to explore how certain locations or aspects of business have been impacted by the pandemic. As you can see from the excerpts discussed above, a large percentage of the nation’s small businesses are still struggling to deal with the challenges created by the pandemic. Overall, the picture seems to be improving when compared to June’s numbers, but substantial progress is still needed in order to return to pre-pandemic levels of prosperity.

You can learn more about how specific industries have been impacted by COVID-19 by visiting our free COVID-19 webpage.

 

Photo credit: Mike Petrucci, Unsplash

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Golf Courses Rake in the Green Amid the Pandemic

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According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons (SBO, 2012), 2.52 million businesses in the United States were majority-owned by veterans. Of this number, 442,485 veterans were employers, and 2.08 million were non-employers. In fact, 10.3 percent of all owners who responded to the 2012 SBO were veterans, and 7.3 percent of those veteran-respondents had service-connected disabilities.

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Some Retail and Food Services Sales Gaining, Others Continue to Slump

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data on estimated retail and food services sales for the month of September. Estimated numbers are based on early reports from a small sampling of companies selected from the larger Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) sample. You can view the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services, September 2020 here.

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Latest Small Business Pulse Survey Shows Improvements

Final results from phase two of the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey were released last week, offering new first-hand perspectives on how the pandemic is impacting businesses. Participating businesses must be non-farm, single-location businesses and must have receipts greater than or equal to $1,000, and 500 employees or fewer.

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How Supply Chains Have Been Affected by COVID-19

In addition to millions of people becoming ill, the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for our economy. We’ve seen millions of job losses. Businesses have watched their profits plummet, leading some to close permanently. The stock market has experienced dizzying volatility. A key contributor to the economic impacts has been disruption in the supply chain, especially for goods and components coming from China.

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Jobless Claims Remain Steady, Though Elevated

The latest jobs report from the Department of Labor (DOL) showed that for the week ending September 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 870,000. This marks an uptick of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level (Sept. 12) was revised up by 6,000 from 860,000 to 866,000.

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August Retail Sales: Are the Winners and Losers Starting to Plateau?

The Census Bureau released the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services, August 2020 report last week. Adjusted for seasonal variations, advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for August 2020 were $537.5 billion. That’s an increase of 0.6 percent from July and a 2.6 percent boost versus August of last year. Total sales for the three-month period June through August of this year were up 2.4 percent over the same period in 2019

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Service Sectors Struggle to Regain Past Quarters’ Revenue Levels

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the selected services estimates for the second quarter of 2020. The survey revealed that total revenue for the second quarter of 2020 (seasonally adjusted, but not adjusted for price changes) was $3,650.4 billion. That’s down 9.1 percent as compared to first quarter of 2020 and down 9.3 percent versus the second quarter of 2019.

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