Friday, February 19, 2016

Wells Fargo: Small Businesses Enter 2016 with More Optimism

Improved cash flow and future outlook boost latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index; survey also captures attitudes about mobile banking, EMV-chip card technology
 
New York, N.Y., Feb. 19, 2016 – Small business owners expressed a level of optimism not seen in a year in the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, conducted January 11-15, as the Index’s overall score rose to 67, a 13-point gain from November’s survey. 
 
The quarterly survey, which measures the optimism of small business owners, had previously declined for three consecutive quarters, falling to an overall score of 54 in November. The January increase was the largest quarter-over-quarter increase since January 2015, when the Index also rose 13 points. 
 
The bounce in optimism benefitted largely from small business owners feeling better about their cash flow, with 60 percent saying their cash flow was very or somewhat good over the past 12 months – a level not seen since the fourth quarter of 2007. Looking ahead, 66 percent of business owners expect their cash flow to be very or somewhat good in the next 12 months, compared to 63 percent in November. Most other Index measures had small increases or were unchanged in the first-quarter survey.
 
“The latest Index scores show that small business owners are more upbeat about their current and future business conditions,” said Joe Kirk, Wells Fargo Region President.   “This suggests small business owners are entering 2016 with greater confidence, and cash flow sentiment is driving that optimism.”

Small business payment trends
The Index also gauged small business owners’ attitudes about EMV chip-enabled debit and credit cards. Beginning Oct. 1, 2015, merchants needed to convert to new EMV-enabled card processing systems or accept liability for any fraudulent point-of-sale card transactions. To meet the October 1 deadline, merchants were encouraged to update their card processing systems to accept chip-enabled cards. Almost half (48 percent) of business owners surveyed in January said that their card processing system is currently chip-enabled, up from 31 percent in August 2015. 
 
Of the business owners who have not updated their card processing system to accept chip-enabled cards, 22 percent plan to do so in the next six months, and 14 percent say within the next 12 months. One in five business owners (20 percent) say they never plan to upgrade.

About the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index
Since August 2003, the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index has surveyed small business owners on current and future perceptions of their business financial situation. The Index consists of two dimensions: 1) Owners’ ratings of the current situation of their businesses and, 2) Owners’ ratings of how they expect their businesses to perform over the next 12 months. Results are based on telephone interviews with 600 small business owners, with annual revenues up to $20 million, in all 50 United States conducted January 11-15, 2016. The overall Small Business Index is computed using a formula that scores and sums the answers to 12 questions — six about the present situation and six about the future. An Index score of zero indicates that small business owners, as a group, are neutral – neither optimistic nor pessimistic – about their companies’ situations.   The overall Index can range from -400 (the most negative score possible) to +400 (the most positive score possible), but in practice spans a much more limited range. The margin of sampling error is +/- four percentage points. The highest Index reading was +114 in the fourth quarter of 2006, and the lowest reading was -28 in the third quarter of 2010.

About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.8 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through 8,700 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2015 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories

About Gallup
For more than 70 years, Gallup has been a recognized leader in the measurement and analysis of people’s attitudes, opinions and behavior.  While best known for the Gallup Poll, founded in 1935, Gallup’s current activities consist largely of providing marketing and management research, advisory services and education to the world’s largest corporations and institutions.

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