Poll: Reopenings uncertain for many still-closed small businesses

  • The Massachusetts state flag  AP PHOTO/STEVEN SENNE

State House News Service
Published: 7/23/2020 2:07:50 PM

Only half of Massachusetts small business owners whose operations are still closed said they are confident they will ever reopen, indicating lingering uncertainty months after forced shutdowns began to limit the spread of COVID-19, according to a new poll.

A majority of the 1,868 businesses with fewer than 500 employees polled by the MassINC Polling Group have already resumed operations to some degree, and 13% remain closed.

Of those polled that are still closed, 50% of owners believe their companies will reopen, 44% are unsure and 4% have closed permanently, the poll found.

The pandemic’s economic consequences continue even as Massachusetts progresses through a plan to revive public and business activity gradually. In June, the state had the highest unemployment rate in the country at 17.4%.

Forty-four percent of businesses surveyed in the poll said their revenue in the first half of 2020 was half or less than during the first half of 2019, and another 20% said it had dropped one-quarter to one-half.

One in five reported missing a rent payment since the start of shutdowns, with 12% missing tax payments, 14% missing utility payments, 11% missing insurance payments and 19% falling short on vendor or supplier bills.

The poll, conducted from June 23 to July 13 and released Thursday, also found clear impacts on workers. Forty-six percent of the small businesses surveyed reported having at least one employee laid off or actively on furlough, while 54% said no employees were currently in either of those categories.

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