More than 900 businesses between Solvang and San Miguel responded to the Central Coast Coalition of Chambers COVID-19 impact survey, providing data to back up what Chambers throughout the region are hearing from their members every day.
The survey ran from May 11- 17, 2020 and covered topics including general sentiment, financial impacts, general challenges and reopening status of businesses.
An overwhelming majority of respondents were feeling unsure and believe that the economy will be impacted for 6-12 months or longer and will stagnate or show slow growth thereafter. Respondents’ top three concerns as it relates to the crisis are the negative impact on their job/income/business, the US economy, and not knowing how long the situation will last.
The economic impact of the crisis cannot be understated, with nearly 40% of businesses reporting decreases in revenue of more than 75% since the Shelter-in-Place order was issued mid-March.
Unsurprisingly, revenue/cash flow remains the number one challenge (43%) by a large margin but nearly 15% are appropriately concerned on protecting their employees and customers from COVID-19 and are in search of information to help them do so. When asked about being able to pay their rent/mortgage in full, 23% reported inability to make those payments in full.
“I am always amazed at the fortitude of our entrepreneurial business community and the survey responses confirmed it once again,” said Jim Dantona, Chair of the Coalition of Central Coast Chambers. “Even in the face of tremendous losses, business owners see a path through and are working to adapt their operations and offerings, keep people employed and keep people safe.”
As the State moves into the first part of ‘Stage 2’, 68.3% of businesses report being able to open in some fashion and 23% were able to open completely because of the change in the State’s order. 31.7% are still unable to open at all.
While more than 35% of respondents would describe current conditions for their business as fair, 46% described conditions as poor or catastrophic, more than twice the number that described conditions as good or excellent.
“These facts are sobering but we must continue to have confidence that we, as a region, will survive after the COVID crisis is over.” said Glenn Morris, Vice-Chair of the Coalition of Central Coast Chambers. “It might look a bit different, but hard-work, sacrifice and innovation is in the DNA of our business community. The Coalition of Chambers is here to work with these businesses, along with our other economic partners, to get out of this crisis and forge a path forward.”
Where possible, many businesses have adapted operations to fit circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly 37% report establishing alternative ways to sell and deliver products and 23% have changed the products/services they offer. But COVID-19 has caused many area businesses to close their doors or lay off workers. More than 34% of respondents have closed temporarily and 37% said at least one employee has been furloughed or laid off.