32% of small enterprise house owners in Indiana say issues will not return to regular till 2022
(The Center Square) – Nearly a third of recently surveyed small business owners in the state of Indiana said they don’t expect business to return to normal by 2022, and 11% said it will not return to normal in 2023, in almost two years.
The National Federation of Independent Business survey was conducted March 11-16 and included responses from a random sample of 526 small business owners from Indiana.
It was the 16th in a series of polls the NFIB has conducted since March 2020. Taken together, the results provide more evidence of the profound disruption to normal life in the state of Indiana over the past year, and point to the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers.
However, the latest results also show some improvement in the economic outlook.
In December, NFIB State Director Barbara Quandt testified to the Indiana General Assembly, telling lawmakers that 25% of companies surveyed said they would close their doors forever if economic conditions did not improve in the next six months.
In the latest survey, that number was halved. Now, only 13% of small business owners surveyed say they’ll have to close if things don’t improve in the next six months – still a significant number, but a big improvement in just four months.
This month’s survey looked at the outlook for the business, as well as revenue, attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccine, and the number of small businesses in the state helped by the PPP program, the federal program that gave businesses generous loans awarded if they kept employees on payroll during the pandemic.
In terms of revenue, the survey found that 22% of small businesses were selling half of their revenue a year or less ago. Another 21% of small businesses say their sales are between 51% and 75% of pre-pandemic sales. 35 percent of business owners said they were back or almost back in sales before the pandemic, and 23 percent said their sales are now higher than they were before the pandemic.
The revenue question shows that in turbulent times, some companies will still thrive or even boom while others stall.
Jeff Mease owns Pizza X in Bloomington.
“Pizza delivery was great … it’s stronger than ever,” he said this week.
But Mease also owns two full-service restaurants, Lennie’s and Hive, and both have worked with what he calls a “big loss.”
“These last few weeks have been the bright spot,” he said, “people feel the weather and get out and see how the Covid numbers improve …”
He says the PPP money has been of great help and has enabled him to keep people on the payroll.
“I think the federal government did a really good job on ‘We’re going to hold you back.’ It’s more than I ever thought, ”he said.
Another restaurant owner in Bloomington, Pema Wangchen, says 90% of his lunch shop has been gone since the pandemic started a year ago. He used to have 35-40 customers for lunch every day and now he only has a handful. The dinner business is better but still down 50%, he says.
His restaurant, Anyetsangs Little Tibet, is two blocks from the IU campus, and since almost all students, faculties, and staff work remotely, almost no one goes out for lunch.
“I’m Tibetan, so I come from a representative of Tibet,” he says. “Tibet is part of China right now, which is why it is so difficult before the pandemic.” You know I lost my own country I hope everyone never gives up. Try to get lucky. I do it myself. “
During the winter, he says, there were very few customers even at dinner, and he was often seen waiting for tables himself.
He hopes business will return to normal in 2022, or maybe fall, when IU classes are online and normal events at the university resume.
“Try to survive 100%. I’ll take care of that, ”he says.
While restaurants, bars and hotels have been hardest hit by the pandemic and lifestyle change, other businesses have also been hit dramatically.
When many people stopped commuting to work last spring, they stopped bringing cars to the store for repairs.
Jason Smith, owner of a vehicle repair facility in Merrillville, northwestern, said his business had declined 80%. He was so desperate to keep the business going that he tried to refinance his home to pay his employees.
To get it done, he and his wife started a pick-up and drop-off service, collecting cars and bringing them back to the store to change the oil, and then returning them to their owners. They also started handing out vouchers for free lunches at local restaurants every time the oil was changed.
“Yes, we were injured. But they were all too, ”he says. “What is the point of community if you cannot come together in difficult times to help one another?”
When people started driving again and had to service their cars, the goodwill they generated paid off and business picked up speed.
Like others, Smith was able to get money through the paycheck protection program, which helped him keep his 12 employees on the payroll.
The NFIB survey found that 74% of companies that were able to obtain a federal loan through the Paycheck Protection Program have applied for credit. It also found that 20% of small businesses in Indiana that were unable to get a PPP loan last year applied for a PPP loan this year.
The PPP program, originally launched last summer, reopened following the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021, which was incorporated into law on December 27, 2020.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was incorporated into law on March 11 by President Joe Biden, modified the calculation of the PPP loan amount for sole proprietorships and instituted other financial assistance programs, including one specifically for the restaurant industry that allows restaurant owners to trade again – collect a portion of the revenue they lost in 2020.