The Business Times

BofA small-business card spending on travel highest since Covid

Published Sat, Sep 17, 2022 · 11:33 AM

THE number of Bank of America (BofA) small-business customers spending on business travel neared pre-pandemic levels last month, an encouraging sign that owners continue to spend.

Travel transactions per client are now at 90 per cent of 2019 levels, the highest since the pandemic began, the Bank of America Institute said in a report on Friday (Sep 16). Spending on plane tickets, lodging, car rental and other travel-related activities was up 31 per cent in August from a year before when the delta variant of the coronavirus spread. It was up 43 per cent in the past year for firms with an annual revenue above US$1 million.

Companies have been ramping up business travel as Covid concerns fade and they resume in-person meetings, like going to the office. After corporate travel collapsed during pandemic, US employers are now booking fall trips at nearly 6 times last year’s rate.

The figures reinforce data earlier this week that showed optimism among US small businesses picked up in August by the most since June 2021 as owners grew less negative about the business outlook and inflation views. However, the gauge is well below year-ago levels.

BofA’s report also found strong payroll spending per small-business client, the result of both higher wages and increased hiring. That contributed to greater per-customer spending overall, rising 11 per cent in the year through August compared to 3 per cent in July.

“We see things like the rebound in small business travel and resilience in payroll payments as further evidence the economy is getting back on track,” economist Anna Zhou and analyst Taylor Bowley said in the report. BLOOMBERG

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