Published in Small Business

Survey: 1 in 7 small biz owners doubt their company will survive COVID-19

BY Friday, June 05, 2020 05:45am

One in seven small business owners in Michigan still doubts whether their company will survive the COVD-19 pandemic and resulting closures ordered by the state.

The finding comes from the latest member survey by the Small Business Association of Michigan that gauges the effects of the pandemic on small businesses and the state’s state-at-home orders.

SBAM President Brian Calley COURTESY PHOTO

Almost one-third of the survey’s nearly 600 respondents said they are still unable to reopen because of executive orders issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. More than eight out of 10 said they were prepared to reopen and get back to work with precautions in place and personal protective equipment for employees.

“Though the pandemic has been devastating for small business owners all across Michigan, they are incredibly resilient and have plans in place to protect customers and employees from the spread of COVID-19,” SBAM President Brian Calley said in a statement. “If given the chance, small businesses are ready to return to work and serve customers safely.”

In the survey conducted between May 27 and June 2, nine in 10 respondents told SBAM they were confident they could prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, and three-quarters said they have a preparedness and response required by state executive orders.

More than half of small businesses answering the survey said they laid off at least one employee. Nearly 90 percent expect a sales decline of 10 percent or more during the pandemic, and 60 percent expect to lose one-quarter or more of their sales.

“It makes sense that loss of sales and profitability top small business owners’ concerns as they deal with closures and reductions that were caused by the pandemic,” SBAM CEO Rob Fowler said in a statement. “The road ahead likely won’t be easy but we are hopeful that small businesses will be able to overcome these obstacles and survive these difficult times.”

Whitmer on Monday issued an executive order allowing restaurants, bars and retail stores statewide to reopen next week with capacity limits and allowing for gatherings of up to 100 people. Retail stores were able to fully reopen with capacity limits Thursday.

Monday’s executive order does not allow other businesses to reopen that “necessarily involve close contact and shared surfaces, including gyms, hair salons, indoor theaters, tattoo parlors, casinos, and similar establishments.” Those businesses could reopen in the next two to three weeks, Whitmer said.

The coalition of barber shops and hair salons across the state, Safe Salons for Michigan, reiterated a plea for Whitmer to allow its members to get back to business. Safe Salons for Michigan on Tuesday noted that Michigan was the only state that requires barber shops and salons to remain closed, “while salons in all other states have either fully or partially reopened, or have a reopening date scheduled.”

“Today in Michigan, you can get your teeth cleaned, get your dog groomed, get a relaxing facial at the dermatologist and then join friends at a restaurant or bar for dinner and drinks, all while you still can’t get a haircut in a sanitary environment,” Mike Sarafa, CEO of the Alline Salon Group in Troy, said in remarks this week to the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Safe Salons for Michigan, consisting of more than two dozen operators of 350 facilities across the state, in late May issued a reopening for its industry to plan to operate safely that was based on work done with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

In a daily brief Thursday afternoon on the pandemic, Calley speculated that the governor may announce Friday morning further opening of businesses in the northern Lower Peninsula, including barber shops and salons.

“It’s reasonable speculation that it’s going to be moving those regions to where COVID-19 is nearly non-existent and into a more sense of doing business,” Calley said.

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