Small businesses in America are suffering as a result of the coronavirus, there’s no denying that fact. But what is the data showing us? Here’s a look at several national polls and surveys showing how small businesses are coping during this global pandemic.

Show Me the Money

That could be the clarion cry of small business owners under siege from the coronavirus. In just the first few days of loan applications under the CARES Act, an Alignable/Harvard Business School (HBS) Survey and a second poll point to serious obstacles faced by small businesses that need funds soon to stay afloat.

Nearly 67% of small business owners say they haven’t applied for the CARES Act loan yet, according to a recent Alignable Pulse Poll. And the Alignable/HBS Survey small business owners revealed the reasons why:

  • 31% say they distrust how loan forgiveness will be established and upheld by the federal government and/or the banks
  • 29% assume they don’t qualify
  • 24% are concerned about timing: that the cash won’t come soon enough, or it won’t last long enough to weather extended quarantines
  • 10% think the process is too much of a hassle

More than 33% of the small business owners surveyed have applied for loans but wonder if or when they’ll get their money. The results so far:

  • Only 1% have been approved
  • Nearly 71% applied and are awaiting approval
  • 3% were told they don’t qualify
  • Around 25% learned their banks couldn’t process applications yet

How bad has this pandemic been for small businesses? Very. According to the Alignable/HBS Poll more than 43% of small businesses have already temporarily closed. The hardest hit industries: retail, arts and entertainment, personal services, food services, and hospitality. Less disruption is reported in the finance, professional services, and real estate sectors.

There is a bright spot in the Alignable/HBS Survey—over 90% of small businesses say they would be “at least somewhat likely” to be open in December 2020, with 64% saying it’s “very or extremely likely.”


The “Death Index”

Womply did a deep dive into credit and debit card transactions and emerged with less than cheery news. Their research shows (it sadly reads almost like a small business “death index”) the percentage of businesses in industries that have completely stopped transacting:

  • 84% of health & beauty businesses
  • 74% of arts & entertainment businesses
  • 66% of bars and lounges
  • 41% of sports and recreation businesses
  • 35% of retail and wholesale businesses
  • 34% of restaurants (curbside has certainly helped here)
  • 28% of parking businesses
  • 22% of quick-serve eateries
  • 14% of lodging (but revenue levels are way down for lodging, even if many haven’t shut down yet)

Womply notes that the week of Monday, March 16th represents a clear “tipping point” when many local businesses stopped transacting, especially those most often deemed “non-essential”. It’s worth taking a look at the report—there’s a lot of specific data reported there.

You should also look at Womply’s Covid-19 data dashboards. Their analysis shows daily year-over-year revenue variances and are updated daily.


Most Negatively Impacted States & Provinces

The latest Alignable Small Business Pulse Poll shows the coronavirus has “impaired the livelihoods” of 90% of small business owners in the U.S. and Canada. Over one-third of the small businesses report they only have a few weeks’ worth of cash to sustain them.

The report shows the 10 American states and 3 Canadian provinces where the impact has been the most severe:

United States

  1. Alaska (98%)
  2. Rhode Island (95%)
  3. District of Columbia (94.6%)
  4. Vermont (93.4%)
  5. Washington (92.5%)
  6. New Jersey (91.5%)
  7. New York (91.4%)
  8. Michigan (91.2%)
  9. Louisiana (91.1%)
  10. West Virginia (91.1%)


  1. Saskatchewan (93.1%)
  2. Ontario (91.3%)
  3. New Brunswick (91.2%)

There is a glimmer of hopeful news, however—60% of the struggling small business owners say they’re getting support from their networks and community.

Most of their support came from: networking groups, customers, and other small business owners in the same industry. Over half of the support was either monetary (16%) or morale-boosting (36%).

The specific activities noted by the small business owners were their networks and communities “purchasing their products, services, or gift cards online and/or participating in crowdfunding efforts, as well as offering helpful advice, encouraging social posts, and uplifting texts.”


Job Security and Financial Worries

It’s not surprising that Americans are worried about their jobs and finances. LendEDU conducted their first survey about the effects of the coronavirus on consumers. Their new survey released this week shows:

  • 12% of Americans have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 compared to just 6% from the first survey.
  • 24% of Americans have seen no changes to their jobs compared to 35% the first time, while 13% have been furloughed compared to 11% in the first survey.
  • Money spent on food and supplies increased by 88% from two weeks ago, going from $335.65 to $631.06.
  • 51% have had to use money from a savings account or emergency fund compared to 44% from the first survey.
  • 72% are worried about their retirement savings compared to 63% from two weeks ago.
  • 30% of eligible respondents will save the $1,200 payment, while 30% will spend it on food/supplies, and 20% will use it for a rent or mortgage payment.


Concerned Workers

Nearly every U.S. worker is concerned about the current coronavirus outbreak, according to a new survey from Clutch. The survey found 88% of employees are concerned about COVID-19, including 29% who are very concerned.

Businesses are doing their part to ease employee concerns by:

  • Encouraging sick employees to stay home (61%)
  • Improving office hygiene and cleanliness (52%)
  • Reducing business travel (36%)
  • Asking employees to work remotely (26%)
  • Expanding their sick leave policies (13%)


Other reports

  • surveyed business owners about how they’re doing during the coronavirus.
  • on how the coronavirus is affecting the future of Main Street businesses.

Coronavirus stock photo by BreizhAtao/Shutterstock