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NFIB Study: Coronavirus Impact on Small Businesses

March 17, 2020, 07:18 AM
Filed Under: Economy

The NFIB Research Center’s new survey on the current impact of the coronavirus outbreak on small business found that while most small businesses are not currently impacted, owners are concerned about future disruptions if the outbreak continues to escalate.

The vast majority of small businesses (74 percent) are not currently impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. However, the coronavirus outbreak is negatively impacting about 23 percent of small business owners. Three percent are positively impacted.

Of those small business owners not currently impacted, 43 percent anticipate their business being impacted if the coronavirus outbreak spreads to, or spreads more broadly in, their immediate area over the next three months. Twenty percent do not expect to be impacted if the outbreak spreads, and another 37 percent are not sure.

Of those businesses negatively impacted, 39 percent are experiencing supply chain disruptions, 42 percent slower sales and 4 percent sick employees. The 4 percent of owners citing sick employees likely responded this way out of heightened concern and precautions with sick employees showing some signs of cold or flu-like symptoms, not necessarily because they have employees who have tested positive for the virus.

While most small business owners are not currently impacted, many are taking measurable steps to prepare their business from the coronavirus outbreak. Thirty percent of owners have stocked up on disinfectant and hand sanitizer for their business and 12 percent have talked with employees about sick leave or work from home policies. Three percent have modified their supply chain or changed their buyers or vendors. Just over half (52 percent) have not felt the immediate need to take any measurable steps. Additional comments included owners taking action by talking with employees about helpful prevention practices, such as frequent hand washing and ordering supplies and inventory ahead of schedule.

The level of concern among small business owners about the coronavirus impacting their business varies greatly in these initial weeks of the outbreak. About 44 percent of small business owners are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about its potential impact on their business (28 percent and 16 percent respectively). Another 37 percent are slightly concerned and 18 percent, not at all concerned.

This survey was conducted with a random sample of National Federation of Independent Business's membership database of about 300,000 small business owners. The survey was conducted by email between March 10-11. NFIB collected 300 usable responses, all small employers with 1-120 employees.

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