Small businesses continue to be optimistic

As businesses begin to reopen, most are buffered and encouraged by recent economic numbers as job creation continues to soar as does consumer confidence.  A study was recently released showing that American small business owners continue to be encouraged and look forward to rebuilding what has been lost in the last few months. A survey of small businesses done by insurance giant MetLife, in conjunction with the US Chamber of Commerce, shows optimism and resolve. The following results are taken directly from their final report:

  • Most businesses are partially open. Seventy-nine percent of small businesses are either fully (41%) or partially (38%) open. One in five are closed, either temporarily (19%) or permanently (1%). 51% of small businesses in the South report they are fully open.
  • Most say it will take longer for the business climate to return to normal. Fifty-five percent of small businesses believe it will take six months to a year before the U.S. business climate returns to normal (up from 50% last month and 46% two months ago).
  • More than eight in ten small businesses report that they are making or planning to make adaptations in response to the coronavirus. Of those doing so, nearly half (48%) of small businesses have either started, or plan to start, more frequent cleaning/disinfecting of surfaces, while 44% are asking, or plan to ask, employees to self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if they feel sick. Four in ten are also making, or planning to make, adaptations around employees wearing protective gear (40%) or requiring six feet of distance between employees and customers (39%).
  • Fewer businesses are very concerned about the coronavirus’ impact. The number of small businesses reporting they are very concerned about the impact of COVID-19 is now 43%, a 10 percentage-point drop from a month ago and a 15-point drop from two months ago.
  • Most larger small businesses concerned about lawsuits. Two-thirds (67%) of small businesses with 20-500 employees are concerned about the possibility of lawsuits related to the coronavirus. Those with less than five employees are less concerned at 22%.

  • Negative sentiments toward the economy are softening. Twenty-four percent of small businesses rate the U.S. economy as “good,” (21% last month). However, the number of small businesses saying the U.S. economy is in “very poor” health has shrunk 11 points to 18% (29% last month).
  • Business health steady overall, increases substantially in Northeast. 53% of small businesses report good overall health (similar to last month’s 50%). Retailers continue to report the lowest percentage of those in good health (46%), while small businesses in the Northeast saw an increase in good health since last month: from 41% to 59% this month.
  • Revenue expectations improve. Now, 50% expect next year’s revenues to increase, while 19% expect them to decrease. Last month 47% expected an increase and 25% expected a decrease.
  • Cash flow improves. Cash flow has been a perennial concern for small businesses during the pandemic. Currently, 56% feel comfortable with their company’s cash flow situation, up from last month’s low of 48%, and in line with findings in late March (59%).
  • Fewer see poor local economy. Slightly more believe their local economy is in good health (28%, similar to last month’s 24%). This month, fewer perceive their local economy’s health to be poor (38% believe it is in poor health vs. 50% last month), and more say it is average (33% vs. 25% last month).
  • Most firms which shed workers anticipate rehiring them. Seventy-one percent of small businesses say they have the same number of employees as in February before the pandemic began. Among those that report having fewer employees now, more than half (55%) anticipate rehiring or bringing back most workers at some point in the next six months.

-Written by Kevin Sawyer