Small businesses employ roughly half of all Americans, but new data is showing many of these businesses are closing permanently.
“It’s an excruciatingly hard decision,” said Martha Studstill. “You know small business owners put their heart and soul into their business.”
For more than a decade Studstill has owned a small gift shop, Uptown Gifts, in South Carolina.
“Until COVID came along we were buzzing,” said Studstill.
Originally, in March, the plan for Uptown Gifts was to close temporarily for a few weeks. However, the shop has now been closed for more than three months. She has only been able to list items online, resulting in sales being down by 75%.
However, sales aside and more importantly to Studstill, the danger of COVID-19, especially for someone her age, hasn’t subsided.
“When we closed on March the 16, I really had no idea we would be where we are at today,” said Studstill.
Studstill thought she would be reopening, not only earlier, but to fewer cases of COVID-19.
Cases have actually been on the rise in her state. The uptick started most distinctly after reopenings. So, with the financial risk and uncertainty added to Studstill’s health risk of running the shop, she feels closing is her only choice.
“I think if I were younger, I would not have made the same decision, but I am where I am at,” she added.
Around the country, there is a wave of permanent business closures happening. One report done by Yelp shows more than 143,000 businesses listed on its platform closed between March and June. Now, roughly 35% of those businesses have indicated their closures are permanent. Most of those businesses closing are small businesses.
“The numbers that are coming out are really sad,” said Frank Knapp with Small Business for America’s Future.
Knapp heads the newly formed organization, pushing for better help for small businesses in Congress’ next stimulus package.
“Our proposal for Small Business for America’s Future is that we need to put together grants for the really small businesses to help them get through this recession so that they are healthy on the other side and our economy can get back up and running again,” said Knapp.
Saving small businesses could save jobs and be the fastest way to rebound the economy.
“Small businesses hire about 50% of all workers in this country,” said Knapp, “We know from the last recession, it was small businesses that got us back on our economic feet again, not big businesses. Small businesses did the hiring right away.”
“I think that this could be a defining moment where the general public could see just how important small businesses are to their community,” added Studstill.