Nearly half of small business owners report that they have been negatively affected by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and those in urban areas are feeling an even greater strain. According to a new Lendio survey, small business owners in urban areas were twice as likely as those in suburban and rural areas to say that coronavirus has “definitely” had a negative impact on small business owners.
Given the steep growth of urban areas over rural and suburban areas in recent years, the higher level of impact for urban businesses also means a higher number of small businesses will be affected. The higher impact on urban businesses may be contributing to the hit minority-owned businesses face, as well. Minority business owners responded to the Lendio survey that they, too, were twice as likely to have experienced a negative impact due to coronavirus. Higher levels of diversity in urban areas may be contributing to the overlap in the effects felt by urban and minority-owned small businesses.
This difference may be due to the way that urban residents are responding to calls for “social distancing.” Living in a more densely populated area necessarily means that you’re more likely to come into contact with a crowd on your trip to the local bodega (that’s how New York can support having one on every corner, after all).
While the CDC has released social distancing guidelines for local governments and communities, the guidelines allow for how they’re used. “Selection and implementation of these actions should be guided by the local characteristics of disease transmission, demographics, and public health and healthcare system capacity,” the CDC states.
Late last week, some mayors were still urging patrons to visit small businesses, but over the weekend, urban small businesses have taken an even larger hit. Many cities have forced restaurants, bars, and other small businesses to close. As the situation progresses and the need for increased self-quarantine measures becomes apparent, urban small businesses are facing greater challenges.
The truth is that no one quite knows the full economic impact of the coronavirus spread. We don’t know the full extent of how it will affect urban or rural small business. In the meantime, small businesses are responding by securing a financial safety net, switching to a delivery-only model, and selling gift cards, while some small music venues are even setting up GoFundMes to help pay staff after canceled shows and tours.