JACKSON, Miss.—A new report published by Main Street America claims that nearly 7.5 million small businesses across the country are in danger of closing over the next five months as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
5,850 businesses nationwide responded to survey
The information in the report apparently came from voluntary responses to an on-line survey. It says that 5,850 small business owners responded nationwide volunteered the information. It claims there are 300,000 small businesses in “the network,” so the response rate nationwide appears to have been slightly less than two percent.
Sixty-two percent of Mississippi respondents said they were endangered
Of the 149 small business in Mississippi, which volunteered information, 62 percent indicated that their businesses are at risk of closing permanently in the next five months. Half of Mississippi respondents said they have seen their revenue decrease by more than 75 percent since early March.
The Main Street organization says the report is the “first and most extensive survey to date” assessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on small businesses, especially those that employ 20 or fewer people. Of the 5,850 small businesses who responded to the survey nationwide, 91% said they own businesses with staff of fewer than 20 people.
Online shopping vs. brick-and-mortar retailing
The trend of shopping online rather than from “brick-and-mortar” stores has been growing across the country, small towns and big cities, for the last 20 years. The U.S. Department of Commerce says online shopping amounted to less than five percent of total sales in the late 1990s. Yet in February 2019 — more than a year before the coronavirus pandemic — online retail sales surpassed those of brick-and-mortar stores for the first time in history.
Of the 5,850 businesses who responded to the Main Street survey, 63.3 percent said they DO NOT have an on-line sales component, while just 36.7 percent said they DO have an on-line component.
Almost 70 percent of Mississippi respondents had no online component
In Mississippi, nearly 70 percent of respondents to the Main Street survey indicated they do not have an active online sales component to their business. The report suggests web development and e-commerce training for small businesses might be a needed area of investment for the federal government to consider as the need for further cash infusion is evaluated.
Main Street calls on federal government for assistance
The report calls on Congress to fund the U.S. Small Business Administration and to “partner” with organizations like local Main Street programs and Chambers of Commerce to expand technical assistance to small businesses.
These local economic development organizations act as critical connectors and educators for our nation’s smallest employers and can help ensure stimulus dollars reach these businesses continue to prioritize and fund these essential downtown and city-wide small business support organizations. These programs not only play a vital role in stabilizing local economies throughout the crisis but will expedite the recovery process once the pandemic subsides.
Main Street works to help local communities
“The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) has been working overtime to help our local communities respond to the impacts of COVID-19,” said Thomas Gregory, State Coordinator for MMSA. “Specifically, we are assisting our local Main Street directors in navigating small business loan programs and we are providing grant funds for community development projects in our Main Street communities,” Gregory stated.
“Mississippi’s downtowns are the heart of our communities and the Mississippi Main Street Association is providing the critical resources our Main Street organizations need to revitalize their local economies,” Gregory said. “As we say all the time, Mississippi Main Street is a family, and we are all working through this unprecedented situation together.
“Main Street America has been helping to revitalize older and historic commercial districts for 40 years. Today it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”
The mission of the Mississippi Main Street Association is to be a catalyst for the preservation and economic revitalization of Mississippi’s historic downtown districts. “The Mississippi Main Street Association provides visionary leadership to Mississippi’s most storied places. We foster economic and community development through strategies that promote community engagement, pride of place, and quality design to achieve long-term economic growth,” says MMSA . MMSA says it has provided more than $5 billion in public and private re-investment back into Main Street communities since 1993.Business, closing, main street, New Albany, Union County