Declines in same-store sales at small and midsize businesses appear to be easing up, suggests the Small Business Credit Sales Report.

Credit and signature-debit card sales initiated during this year’s third quarter at more than 50,000 businesses suggest that same-store sales at retailers in business more than a year decreased 5.06% from the same period last year, Mark Lorimer, chief marketing officer at Capital Access Network Inc., tells PaymentsSource. During this year’s second quarter, same-store card sales dropped 5.6% from a year earlier, and in first quarter sales were down 9.16% year over year.

Scarsdale, N.Y.-based Capital Access reviewed the transaction data for the report. Merchants reviewed had an average ticket size of approximately $150 and average monthly transaction volume of $24,000.

Merchants experienced a peak decline in same-store sales, at 14.84%, in the third quarter of 2009 from a year earlier.

“A year ago, things were pretty bleak,” Lorimer says. “ Clearly the good news is that the decline seems to be slowing.”

The best-case scenario is to see same-store sales return to a growth pattern, he says, unable to predict when that might happen.

One segment of the restaurant industry did experience growth during the third quarter, Lorimer says. Small restaurants, with average tickets of less than $25, experienced a 0.36% growth rate in same-store sales from a year ago, the first sales growth for the segment since the first quarter of 2009, Lorimer says.

The report also drilled into how same-store sales fared in each region of the nation. All regions but New England experienced declines in same-store sales compared with the third quarter of 2009. Capital Access Network did not provide specific data for New England.

The Rocky Mountain region had the largest drop, 8.47%, in year-over-year same-store sales, Lorimer says. The region consists of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

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