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Metros where small businesses have been most impacted by COVID-19

  • Metros where small businesses have been most impacted by the coronavirus

    More than nine out of 10 small businesses have suffered a negative impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research by the National Federation of Independent Business. Under stay-at-home orders, half predicted they could survive no longer than two months. Small businesses tend to operate on razor-thin margins, with a need for regular cash flow and lack of financial cushioning. According to a March 25–April 6 survey by Main Street America, of the nation's 30 million or so small businesses, 3.5 million were at risk of closing for good in the subsequent two months.

    Many small businesses have proven to be agile, moving to online sales, curbside deliveries, or switching production to something new altogether. But experts and data indicate even the most flexible companies will be unlikely to compensate for lost in-person and brick-and-mortar operations. To make matters worse, demand by consumers has fallen off dramatically due to job losses and uncertainty.

    While many businesses may be eager to reopen, they might find a disappointing reception. A survey by the Washington Post and University of Maryland found three-quarters of Amercans felt uncomfortable about eating out at a restaurant, and two-thirds were uncomfortable about shopping in a retail clothing store.

    Losses in small businesses have been deepest in retail, hospitality, food services, personal services, arts and entertainment. Among restaurants in Washington D.C., despite their efforts to survive on pickup and delivery orders, sales are down about 80% as of early April. That means they are making $1 for every $5 they made a year ago.

    Stacker compiled a list of how small businesses have been impacted by coronavirus from Homebase. It ranked 50 metro areas by the number of local businesses that were closed on April 29 compared with the median for that day of the week for the period from Jan. 4–31, 2020. Ties are broken by the change in hourly employees working.

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  • #50. Milwaukee

    - Local businesses open: -29%
    - Hourly employees working: -42%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -39%

    Under Wisconsin’s Safer at Home campaign, about a third of Milwaukee’s local businesses closed their doors. Several started GoFundMe “virtual tip jars” to help raise money for their workers. Experts from Wisconsin Foodie predict about a third of restaurants will be out of business for good across the state.

  • #49. Oklahoma City

    - Local businesses open: -33%
    - Hourly employees working: -47%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

    In Oklahoma City, small businesses in need have swamped the Small Business Continuity Fund. More than 600 local businesses have applied, seeking more than $20 million from a fund that has $5.5 million for forgivable loans and cash incentives.

  • #48. Memphis

    - Local businesses open: -34%
    - Hourly employees working: -37%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -32%

    Memphis has kicked off new microloan and grant programs for small businesses shuttered by the crisis. The loans range up to $35,000, while grants of up to $10,000 are aimed at helping businesses in stressed, inner-city neighborhoods.

  • #47. Virginia Beach

    - Local businesses open: -34%
    - Hourly employees working: -46%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -40%

    In the month of April, more than 20,000 Virginia Beach residents filed new unemployment claims. Most lost their jobs working for small businesses. Also, small businesses asked to cite their top concerns told Virginia Beach authorities they needed funds most to pay rent and utilities.

  • #46. Phoenix

    - Local businesses open: -35%
    - Hourly employees working: -49%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

    Small businesses are a huge part of the Phoenix economy. Nearly three-quarters of the city’s 18,000 businesses have fewer than 25 employees. The city council recently approved $15 million in grants for small businesses and sole proprietors to help them through the crisis.

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  • #45. Kansas City

    - Local businesses open: -36%
    - Hourly employees working: -31%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -31%

    Looking to get local businesses reopened, Kansas City has set up “10/10/10” rules. Nonessential businesses cannot operate at more than 10% of capacity or allow 10 people inside, whichever is greater. The third “10” is optional, asking businesses to record the names of customers who stayed more than 10 minutes, in a beauty parlor for example, as a way to trace potential cases of the virus.

  • #44. San Antonio

    - Local businesses open: -36%
    - Hourly employees working: -49%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -50%

    As local businesses shuttered in San Antonio, workers making the lowest wages were hit the hardest, according to local experts. The most affected employees were hourly workers in the hospitality, food, and retail industries. In the week ending March 28, nearly a quarter of the workers filing unemployment claims statewide came from the hospitality sector.

  • #43. Salt Lake City

    - Local businesses open: -38%
    - Hourly employees working: -45%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -47%

    Small businesses comprise nine out of 10 employers in Utah, and slightly less than half the workforce. Struggling in the pandemic, hundreds of small businesses signed an open letter to the governor and other leaders, calling for grants, deferred sales tax obligations, and other financial assistance. In Salt Lake City, more than 90% of the 17,000 businesses are small.

  • #42. Jacksonville

    - Local businesses open: -38%
    - Hourly employees working: -48%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -42%

    All nonessential businesses were ordered closed by the mayor of Jacksonville at the start of April, with the exception of health care providers, grocery stores, restaurants for takeout, factories, and construction sites. The city, which has gotten national recognition for supporting small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs, set up a loan and grant program a few days later.

  • #41. Austin

    - Local businesses open: -38%
    - Hourly employees working: -49%
    - Hours worked by hourly employees: -51%

    The first phase of reopening businesses in Texas allowed retailers, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls to reopen at 25% of capacity. But data shows unemployment projections due to the coronavirus of more than 260,000 in the Austin metro area through June—a jobless rate of 25.4%.

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