Though the latest omicron wave has begun to fade, its lasting impacts on small businesses can’t be understated. Seventy-nine % of small business owners are extremely nervous about how COVID will continue to impact their businesses. An additional 71 percent have experienced highly diminished revenue due to the new variants, according to a recent poll from Goldman Sachs.
California business owners are especially at risk, and to Courtney Cowen, founder of Milk Jar Cookies, this level of uncertainty is personal. Cowan said that during the holidays, the company’s most lucrative time of year, more than half her staff was out awaiting COVID tests or home sick. Milk Jar lost thousands of dollars in revenue and sick pay and hasn’t yet been able to recover.
“This deepening crisis is hiding in plain sight,” Cowan told The Daily News. “You feel it when you pop into a favorite specialty store and see the owner doing the jobs of three people.”
Cowan isn’t alone. The Goldman Sachs poll indicated that 44 % of owners were forced to close their businesses due to a lack of employees. Though more than half of Americans are employed by small businesses, keeping workers isn’t the only problem – a whopping 98 % of respondents reported extreme difficulty in hiring, as workers are now asking for higher wages that many small businesses can’t afford.
Hiring and employment aren’t the only issues small businesses are facing. Cowan said that COVID might have been the first domino to fall, but other problems weighing on small businesses (such as supply chain issues and inflation) have been triggered by the virus. These supply chain issues impact 77 % of small businesses, who reported that their bottom line is in worse shape than ever, and 81 % reported being severely affected by inflation.
These consistent issues, Cowan said, are why she believes that “business as usual” may be a thing of the past. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan kept her business afloat in the early days of the pandemic, but the money is long gone, and many small businesses feel abandoned by the federal government. Without more financial assistance in the form of grants or loans, Cowan fears that many businesses may close their doors.