Small Businesses Need Help More Than Ever

New data reveals COVID-19’s serious impact on the little guys

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In a recent survey by the US Census Bureau, more than half of small business owners say the coronavirus pandemic has seriously damaged business operations. A third expect it to take six months or longer to return to normal sales levels.

Data Source: US Census Bureau, 4/26–5/2, 2020

The most recent Small Business Pulse Survey culls data from more than 22,000 small US companies across many sectors. It brings to light the real impact COVID-19 has had on local economies. Overall, 38.5% of businesses said the virus had a moderate effect on operations, while 51.4% said the impression was large.

Conducted April 26th to May 2nd, many questions were about the “past week.”

Source: US Census Bureau

You can review by state and sectors defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Two-digit codes identify primary sectors (see the list of codes here).

Retail trade falls under sectors 44 and 45, which covers everything from automotive to vending machines. Restaurants fall under sector 72, along with hotels. The least affected sector is utilities (22).

Big requests for assistance

On average, 75% of small businesses requested a Paycheck Protection Program loan, of which 38% were approved. Nearly 13% of owners loaned the business money to stay afloat.

Breakdowns and comparison by state

It’s interesting to see how different states stack up against the national average and each other. I live in Florida, but I’ve been staying in Upstate New York during the pandemic. Analyzing the differences between the two locations shows me data across all sectors.

Source: US Census Bureau

I have clients in the Arts & Entertainment, Retail, and Restaurant sectors. The data appears to jive with client data, local feedback, and headlines.

Most sectors are still seeing a tremendous decrease in revenue. Source: US Census Bureau

Supply chains still out of whack

Asked if they’d experienced any supply chain disruptions during the past week, 44.9% said yes. The delays in getting both raw and manufactured goods in companies’ hands have been incredibly painful. For some retailers, shipping delays alone wreaked enough havoc to make them close before required.

Analyze, adjust and assist

The latest data tells us a great deal about local merchants. It’s beneficial to everyone as small businesses are the lifeblood of local economies. Government officials and advisors should use the information to guide business owners on best practices and devise assistance programs. Small business owners should use it both as revelation and inspiration. Shoppers should use it to encourage each other to support the little guys on a much more regular basis.

Review the full data here. How does your state and local economy stack up to the results?

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