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Small Business Conditions Improving, Yet Concerns Remain, According To Capital One's Quarterly Spark Small Business Barometer

Stocks in this article: COF

More than half (52 percent) of small businesses across the country report that current business conditions are fair or poor, while 46 percent report that business conditions are excellent or good. While the majority of those surveyed report that they are less than optimistic about current business conditions, 35 percent of small businesses say their firm’s financial position is better than a year ago, compared with 18 percent who report that their financial position is worse. This is a significant nine point decrease from the two-year high of small businesses that said their financial position was worse in Q4 2012 (27 percent). This quarter’s results are on par with the slow, but steady trend of business owners feeling better about their firm’s financial shape and positive outlook about future prospects that has developed since Capital One issued its first quarterly survey in Q1 2009.

Nearly half of small businesses across the country are reporting that they believe their financial position will be better in six months (45 percent), which could be attributed to the increase in sales that 35 percent of small businesses saw during the past six months. This is a 7 point increase from Q4 2012 (38 percent) and a 2 percent increase from Q2 2012 (43 percent). This quarter, only 10 percent of small businesses report that they think their financial position will be worse in six months, a significant 10 point decrease from Q4 2012 (20 percent), but a 2 percent increase from Q2 2012 (8 percent). Forty-one percent of small businesses report they believe their financial positions will be about the same in six months.

The growing optimism small businesses are reporting this quarter was also reflected in their responses about the state of the national economy and the local economies where they do business. Slightly more small businesses across the country are optimistic about the national economy (48 percent) compared to 46 percent who are pessimistic. Additionally, the majority of small businesses (64 percent) are optimistic about the economies where they do businesses, which bodes well for local businesses across the country.

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