McLean, Virginia (PRESS RELEASE – August 28, 2011) – Capital One Small Business released the results of its Small Business Barometer survey for the second quarter of 2011. The quarterly survey polls small businesses across the nation, gauging their current financial condition and business projections for the next six months. Survey results from Capital One’s survey for the second quarter, suggests that many U.S. small businesses are experiencing gradual, but continued improvement in financial performance. The small business leaders surveyed also report growing confidence in the economic environment, which appears to be contributing positively to hiring and investment decisions for their business in the near term.
“Our second quarter survey results suggest that many small businesses are seeing sustained improvement in business performance. This is a trend we’ve seen developing over the last few quarters and, while the pace has been modest, it has been generally consistent and that’s definitely something we like to see,” said Peter Appello, Executive Vice President of Small Business Banking at Capital One Bank. “While there continues to be a level of caution as businesses think about expenditures, we are seeing a small but healthy uptick this quarter in the percentage of small businesses planning to hire and increase spending on business development and investments over the next six months. Although most of those businesses planning to hire will keep expansion modest, these results are encouraging for the second half of the year.”
In the second quarter, an increased percentage of small businesses from across the country reported plans to hire additional employees over the next six months. Plans for expanding the payroll, however, are modest.
Over one-third (35 percent) of the small businesses polled in the second quarter of 2011 plan to add employees to the payroll over the next six months. This number is up six percentage points from the first quarter of 2011 and shows the highest percentage of small businesses planning to hire since the first quarter of 2010.
The large majority (78 percent) of those businesses planning to hire over the next six months expect to hire between one-10 employees. Eleven percent of respondents believe they will hire 10-20 new employees in the near term.
Including replacing employees who have left the company, 56 percent of the small businesses polled have hired over the past six months, but only 14 percent of those businesses have hired more than 10 employees over that time period.
When asked about the primary factor driving hiring decisions, the top answers were: replacement hires (43 percent), hiring to support growth or expansion (21 percent) and increase revenue or sales (16 percent).
Only eight percent of the small businesses surveyed report that concerns about credit access is a consideration as they make their hiring decisions.
Economic Outlook, Financial Performance and Spending
The survey results for the second quarter of 2011 suggest that small businesses continue to experience improving business performance and remain relatively optimistic about economic conditions, particularly as concerns about rising fuel costs have eased relative to the first quarter of this year. With an improved business outlook, a higher percentage of the small businesses surveyed are planning to increase spending on business development and investments in the near term.
In the second quarter, 44 percent of small businesses polled believe that economic conditions for their business are improving. This number has increased a total of 12 percentage points year-over-year. Only nine percent of small businesses polled believe economic conditions are getting worse.
About half (48 percent) of small business owners surveyed report that their firm’s financial position is better than it was one year ago, up five percentage points from the first quarter of 2011 and 11 percentage points higher on a year-over-year basis. Forty-two percent of small businesses surveyed say that their firm’s financial position has held steady relative to one year ago. Only nine percent of small businesses report that their financial position has worsened over the past year, compared to 19 percent in the second quarter of 2010.
Twenty-seven percent of small businesses polled report plans to increase spending on business development and investments over the next six months, up 4 percentage points from the first quarter of this year. Nevertheless, the majority (64 percent) of respondents plan to keep spending at current levels in the near-term.
Only 16 percent of small businesses surveyed say that they expect fuel prices will place “extreme” or “quite a lot” of pressure on their business over the next six months, down 10 percentage points relative to the first quarter of 2011.
Availability of Financing
The survey results suggest that the availability of credit and financing for small businesses continues to grow and fulfilling capital needs is becoming less of a concern for small businesses.
Eighty-five of U.S. small businesses surveyed report that they are able to access the financing they need, consistent with results from the first quarter of 2011 but 12 percentage points higher on a year-over-year basis. Only 16 percent of businesses polled have tried to obtain financing in the past 12 months.
Only 16 percent of small businesses in the survey say that securing the capital needed to continue operations will be one of the biggest challenges they face over the next six months.
The findings reported in this release are from a telephone survey conducted by the opinion research firm, Braun Research of Princeton, NJ. Braun Research interviewed a nationally-representative sample of 1,904 for-profit small businesses in the U.S., weighted to Dunn and Bradstreet counts of all businesses nationwide by employee size and geography. Samples were also taken in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Small businesses are defined as those with less than $10 million in annual revenue. The interviews were conducted from June 13-July 1, 2011. All interviews were conducted by telephone at their places of business. One respondent per business was contacted. The margin of error is ± 2.3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Interviews were monitored at random. Sampling for this study was conducted using a national sample of businesses drawn from InfoUSA. All interviews were conducted using a computer assisted telephone interviewing system. Statistical weights were designed from the United States Department of Commerce to ensure proper inclusion of all SIC codes.
About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., had $126.1 billion in deposits and $199.8 billion in total assets outstanding as of June 30, 2011. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. Capital One, N.A. has approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 100 index.