In conducting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll survey in March and April, the results went from bad to worse. However, the May survey results show that while there are still concerns, small business owners are becoming more positive about the future and have begun moving towards recovery and reopening.
Of the one in five small businesses who reported a temporary closure at some point since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 43% have reopened. Those who are still temporarily closed, split almost evenly when asked if they will open in the next two weeks when surveyed the end of May (49% say it is likely, 47% say unlikely).
While there is no doubt that small businesses remain concerned about the overall economic toll, the intensity of that concern has decreased. More than eight in ten are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their business (82%), however, the number of small business owners (43%) that say they are “very concerned” about the pandemic impact on their business dropped 10 percentage points from April, and had a 15-point drop from March.
Additionally, small business owners are feeling better about their cash flow and future revenue. In fact, 56% feel comfortable with their company’s cash flow situation, up from April’s low point of 48%. And, half of small business owners expect next year’s revenues to increase, while just 19% expect them to decrease. This is even better news when compared to answers to the same questions asked in late April, when 25% anticipated a sales decrease over the next year.
Despite the optimism around reopening, there are substantial concerns about what the post-COVID world will looks like and how businesses can reopen, while ensuring their safety and the safety of their employees and customers. Moreover, the expectation is increasing that there will be a long road to recovery before things return to normal. 55% of small businesses believe it will take six months to a year before the U.S. business climate returns to normal, up from 50% in April and 46% in March. Six percent say it will never return to normal.
At MetLife, we continue to do what we can to address the concerns of small business owners. We are partnering with American Express’ Stand for Small program, which is a resource small businesses’ can leverage while they focus on getting back to business. MetLife has created a COVID-19 hub for small business employers to get information on legislative, payroll protection and renewal updates. In addition, we are proud to offer employees of small businesses a COVID-19 support hotline as well as financial wellness resources.
We continue to talk to small business owners, through our survey, customer outreach and simple check-ins. We believe that sharing our poll findings, which highlight small business owner’s perspectives directly, provides an authentic platform for them to voice their concerns as well as what solutions they need most to help them survive and thrive. To read the full report, click here.
Finally, I encourage each of you to support your local small businesses in any way you can. I hope through purchasing gift cards, curbside pick-up of foods and products, and using services as they open up, small businesses can flourish again in our own communities and across the country.