Americans Fear For Small Businesses as 2020 Nears an End
This week, the first round of an approved COVID-19 vaccine begin shipping across the nation. As a result, many Americans are feeling a cautious sense of hope as a harsh year nears an end. Nevertheless, in the meantime, small businesses are continuing to struggle — something that the majority of individuals are well aware of.
According to a survey conducted by Kekst CNC between November 20th and December 1st, 54% of respondents report being personally aware of a business that was forced to permanently close due to the pandemic. Interestingly, this figure was higher among those on the West Coast, with 57% of those surveyed in that region stating they were familiar with closed businesses in their area. These figures put the U.S. well ahead of other countries that were also surveyed, including the United Kingdom (42%), Germany (39%), Sweden (34%), France (33%), and Japan (23%).
Similarly, the majority of Americans say they’ve worried for local businesses throughout the pandemic. 58% of respondents in the U.S. said they feared for small businesses in their area, which was only slightly below 62% in the U.K. who said the same. Meanwhile, it was significantly higher than those in Japan and Sweden (35% and 34% respectively).
Beyond small businesses, Americans were also more likely to worry about their own financial livelihoods this year. Kekst CNC’s survey found that, in addition to 25% of U.S. respondents who had lost their jobs, 28% expect that they will lose theirs. Moreover, 34% of Americans surveyed worry that their employer may soon collapse. Comparing these responses to those from other countries, the United States was tied with Japan in terms of expecting job loss (followed by the next highest, France, with 19%), while Americans were more than 10 percentage points ahead of second-place Sweden when it came to actual job losses among respondents.
Also interesting is that when the pandemic does eventually come to an end, the way Americans work — or prefer to work — could look very different. As Kekst CNC Global Head of Knowledge, Insights, Research & Analytics Nicholle Manners explains, “[O]ver half of American respondents indicated they were interested in continuing to work from home part of the time (60%), or all of the time (51%). Both responses were substantially higher than the other markets surveyed. Nearly half of American respondents also indicated that they would seek a new employer if they did not receive this flexibility.” Manners went on to note, “In line with this, 70% of U.S. respondents indicated that they would seek a greater work life balance following the pandemic.”
Overall, while there may be hope on the horizon, it’s still too soon to think that small businesses are out of the woods. In fact, as previous surveys have shown, some owners believe it will be several months if not years before their operations and revenues return to normal. The good news is that Americans seem acutely aware of the challenges these businesses are facing and have shown a willingness to help in any way they can. Hopefully these efforts will prove to be enough as we move forward in 2021 at long last.