(Reuters) – U.S. small business confidence rose last month to its highest since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year with more firms experiencing an uptick in foot traffic and sales, according to a monthly survey released on Tuesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business Optimism Index rose 3.8 points to a reading of 104 in September, the highest level since February. After crashing to a seven-year low in April, the index has rebounded sharply as restrictions imposed on businesses and consumers to contain the spread of COVID-19 have continued easing.
Nine of the index’s 10 components showed improvement, led by a 13 point improvement in business owners’ assessment of earnings trends. A larger net percentage of firms expect the economy to improve as well, and a growing percentage expect to increase employment in the next three months.
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“As parts of the country continue to open, small businesses are seeing some improvements in foot traffic and sales,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement. “However, some small businesses are still struggling financially to operate at full capacity while navigating state and local regulations and are uncertain about what will happen in the future.”
The NFIB Uncertainty Index rose 2 points to 92, matching its level from March.
(Reporting By Dan Burns; Editing by Andrea Ricci)