U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey on the impact of the coronavirus shows the vast majority (85%) of small businesses are still concerned about the pandemic’s impact. Concern is highest in the retail (90%), services (88%), and manufacturing (87%) sectors. Those in the retail and service sectors are more likely to be very concerned about the pandemic (60% and 62%, respectively).
At this time of continued concern, the survey shows a growing adaptation in business operations. One in five small businesses report transitioning some or all of their employees to teleworking (an eight-point increase from last month). This month, more report transitioning the retail aspect of their business to more virtual or digital setups (17% this month, up from 10% last month).
Across sectors, retailers are most likely to have transitioned the retail aspect of the business to more virtual or digital configurations (24%, compared to 7%-19% among other industries) or delivery/pickup (22%, compared to 5%-14% among others). Professional services businesses are the most likely among sectors to have transitioned employees to teleworking (34% report doing so, compared to just 12-16% of other sectors). This reflects a significant 20-point increase in the number of professional services businesses who have moved to teleworking from last month (14%).
Many small businesses (58%) are making financial adaptations as well. More than a quarter (27%) report downsizing their business’s use of utilities, 19% have adjusted employee salaries or hours, and 12% have downsized their business insurance coverage. Small businesses are also seeking other forms of financial relief, including a significant increase in those who report applying for a working capital loan (19% this month, a 15-point increase from last month) and asking their landlord for flexibility in paying rent (17% this month, an eight-point increase from last month).