PNC Survey Finds Several Small Businesses See Hope in Vaccine
As March 2021 begins, it’s now been nearly a year since the first wave of COVID-19 infections hit the United States. Yet, on the eve of that anniversary, the distribution of approved vaccines is providing some much-needed hope. Now, the latest survey from Pittsburgh-based bank PNC shows that small business owners across the nation have positive feelings about the rollout and are taking various approaches to encourage their staff to be vaccinated.
According to PNC’s findings, 48% of small business owners surveyed intend to require vaccinations among their employees. Stopping short of making vaccinations mandatory, 22% plan to offer incentives to employees who choose to receive inoculations while 33% will provide educational material regarding vaccination. Meanwhile, 45% of respondents expect that the rollout of vaccines will have a positive impact on their sales.
Another hope is that, with vaccines currently ramping up distribution, small businesses will be able to begin bringing back staff. While the survey found that one-quarter of businesses needed to cut their workforce in the past year, 82% expect that this reduction will be temporary. However, a return to previous staffing levels may be slow as only 7% of respondents are planning to increase the number of full-time employees within the next six months.
The emphasis that many small businesses are putting on the now three COVID-19 vaccines comes as many continue to struggle with the recent economic conditions. Nearly half (48%) of respondents report that they’re still facing challenges that threaten their ability to say in businesses, with 24% stating that they’ll likely need to close if current conditions don’t improve within the next year. In response, 40% of small businesses surveyed now say that they plan to raise their prices within the next six months. That figure is up more than seven percentage points from a previous PNC survey conducted in the fall.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, PNC Chief Economist Gus Faucher remarked, “Clearly, small and mid-sized business owners have high hopes that successful adoption of vaccinations by the public will translate into an improved business environment, but many challenges remain in front of them.” Faucher added, “As we saw in our survey last fall, business owners remain resilient as they adapt to the massive economic changes the pandemic has caused, and they expect most of these changes to be genuinely transformative.”
While there have been some hiccups along the way in terms of vaccine distribution, the good news is that infection numbers have continued to fall in several areas of the U.S. Additionally, as mentioned, a third vaccine was recently approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. As more Americans do receive vaccinations and herd immunity grows, there’s a tempered expectation that economic recovery can begin in earnest — hence the push by small business owners. With that, while it’s certainly been a long year for business owners and many others, there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel.
Also published on Medium.