Here’s how the coronavirus is affecting small businesses in the United States
Brandy Brown, owner of a family-owned children’s store called Rock-a-Bye Baby in Virginia Beach, Virginia, noticed the effects of the coronavirus on his business starting in January.
Shipments that usually arrived at this time arrived later than usual. Recently, the situation has worsened. Representatives of the brands she sells in the store explained that the coronavirus outbreak, also known as COVID-19, in China has halted production of clothing. Factories were closed without an opening date, and travel restrictions prevented brands from visiting the factories. Workers who traveled during the Lunar New Year were unable to return to work.
“It’s a lot of ground that we’re figuring out and a lot of things we’re learning,” Brown said.
Brown was stuck in the tedious process of filling up missing inventory at Rock-a-Bye Baby. She has resorted to online brand finder with inventory ready to ship and needs to confirm that the brands are not directly dependent on Chinese suppliers.
“It’s harder than we imagined,” said Brown.
Big companies and retailers like Apple and Nike grabbed the headlines during the coronavirus outbreak, as investors eagerly await news that the virus will impact companies’ ability to make money. sales.
But due to the virus’s many impacts, small business owners are struggling as well. Although official reports showing the impact on small businesses have yet to be released, the news across the country illustrate the struggles.
Bo Ky, a pho restaurant in New York’s Chinatown, averaged 120 customers a day, but since the coronavirus outbreak, the number of visitors has dropped to 30 to 40.
Chivy Ngo, general manager of Bo Ky, says the restaurant has lost around 60% of its revenue and cannot produce all of the menu items due to a lack of staff on site. Now that New York has confirmed cases of the coronavirus, “of course that makes people more concerned about going out,” Ngo said.
Wellington Chen, executive director of Chinatown Partnership, a non-profit organization that works to preserve and promote Chinatown, said the effect of the coronavirus on businesses was far greater than any damage caused by SARS.
“The idea of social distancing is really catching on,” Chen said. He claims that some stores have lost around 40% of their revenue, while others have lost as much as 70%. The situation for business owners in Chinatown is so dire that some are unable to pay rent this month, according to a property manager who spoke with Chen.
In response to the desperate situation, the women of Congress of New York, Grace Meng and Nydia Velázquez, and Representative Judy Chu of California presented a bill this week to help small business owners across the country suffer economic damage from the coronavirus. The bill, called the “Small Business Relief from Transmisable Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act,” would allow homeowners to access economic disaster loans of up to $ 2 million to cover business expenses. .
“Many of our Asian businesses in New York have already seen their sales decline due to the misinformation, fear and stigma associated with the virus,” said Velázquez, whose congressional district in New York City understands. Chinatown, in a press release.
But for Chen, the real cure for business owners lies in the public. “We really need the support of the public,” Chen said, “and we need the public to step up and come back to life.
No official guidance has been issued for small businesses on how to protect themselves from the virus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come forward to explain that “being Chinese or Asian-American does not increase the chances of obtain or spread COVID-19. ”
The CDC also recommended encourage sick employees to stay homeand that all employees practice good hygiene, including washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.