Key takeaways:

  • Nearly 1,800 total responses over the four-month period
  • 40% of respondents’ with children aged 0-12 are unsure/still figuring out their plans for child care this fall
  • 79% of businesses are open/partially open in August vs. 88% in June/July & 68% in May
  • 33% said overall conditions were excellent/good in August vs. 19% in May; 27% said poor/catastrophic in August vs. 46% in May
  • 63% of respondents’ feel unsure and think the economy will take 6-12 months to bounce back,  almost the exact same as May. Alternately, the percentage that feels pessimistic saw a nearly 10 point jump from June/July

The Central Coast Coalition of Chambers has released results from their monthly survey on COVID-19 impacts to businesses. Since May, nearly 1,800 businesses between San Miguel and Solvang have responded allowing the Coalition to track sentiment and changes over the four-month period.

The most recent survey ran from August 3 – 12 and covered topics including overall sentiment, financial impacts, general challenges and reopening status of businesses. June/July’s survey closed just a few days before the statewide rollbacks and before SLO County was put on California’s watchlist, resulting in additional restrictions. The survey results have tracked with the loosening and tightening of the statewide restrictions.

When asked about their largest concern related to COVID-19, “Not knowing how long the situation will last” continues to be at the top, increasing ten points since May (27.97%). Respondents’ second and third concerns are seeing a negative impact on their job/income/business (17.80%) and the health of the general public (13.56%). 

survey results

The uncertainty of how long the pandemic will go on has brought challenges in many other areas of life. As the 20-21 academic year begins, additional questions were added to gauge the impact on working parents and their school/child care plans. While 40% of respondents are “Unsure/Still figuring it out” in regards to their plans for fall, the majority will be relying on a remote or flexible work schedule (52%), using informal assistance (40%), or reducing their work hours (36%) to cope.

survey results

An overwhelming majority of respondents reported still feeling unsure and believe that “the economy will be impacted for 6-12 months or longer and will stagnate or show slow growth thereafter.” The percentage of those who responded that they are unsure about the future has hovered between 63-70%, those who are feeling pessimistic and think “COVID-19 will have lasting impact on the economy and show regression/fall into a lengthy recession” jumped nearly 10 points to 24% in August.

survey results

“As we enter the sixth month of this pandemic, our businesses are feeling fatigued,” said Jim Dantona, Chair of the Central Coast Coalition of Chambers. “While the pandemic continues to impact individuals, local businesses and our larger community,  we know that the way forward is through continued collaboration and perseverance. Now more than ever, we see clearly the interdependence of business, government, community and public health and must continue to pull together to invest in our small businesses, our community and our shared future.”

A more promising insight came when respondents’ were asked about the overall conditions for their business. While 27% still believe the current economic conditions to be either poor or catastrophic, that’s an improvement of more than 20 points since the May survey. Similarly, in August 33% of respondents said they believe the conditions are good or excellent versus just 19% when asked in May.

survey results

Additionally, while the number of open businesses peaked in June/July before the State rollback, we saw an increase of more than 10 points in open or partially open businesses from May to August.

survey results

While the current economic conditions are undoubtedly harsh, businesses reporting a more than 50% loss in revenue have dropped by nearly 20 points since May. Subsequently, businesses reporting an increase in revenue and jumped up nearly 7 points in August with about 10% of businesses consistently reporting “No noticeable change”.

survey results

“While we know cash flow is still the number one issue for businesses, those reporting a loss is down 10 points from May,” said Erica Crawford, President/CEO of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce. “Our businesses are resilient, and while it’s clear the path ahead of us is going to be bumpy at times, our businesses and our community will come out the other side.”

survey results