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Signs pointing up toward small business revival


By Tania Braukamper

There’s a ray of optimism shining through in Alignable’s most recent Road to Recovery Report. While most of you are still heavily affected by the pandemic, you’re looking ahead and doing what you can to weather it out.

Now that we settled that, we’ll take a look at the 7 key insights from the poll.

1. You’re feeling less impact

What the data says: Let’s kick things off with some good news. For the first time since April, the number of you reporting significant negative effects fell below 50%. That’s down from 59% in our July report.
For 17% of you (1% more than before), the Coronavirus impact looks to be on the decline. And 12% aren’t being impacted at all. 

We also started to collect information from those of you who’ve experienced an increase in business due to the outbreak. Approximately 12% of you fell into this group.

None of that is to gloss over the fact that 74% of you are feeling some level of impact. There’s still a long road ahead, and a lot of tough decisions to be made. 

2. Most of you are optimistic about reopening 

What the data says: The percentage of fully reopened businesses continued to grow in July (up 6% to 56%). Though that’s still not much more than half, it is a good jump — and on top of that, the closed business rate decreased by 2% to 14%.  

Out of those of you whose businesses remain closed, the vast majority (92%) still intend to reopen. When we asked you when you anticipate being fully reopened, most of you said October or later.

As for the status of your businesses, July shows another month-on-month improvement in the number of you who’ve fully returned to normal. Simultaneously, fewer of you have permanently closed your doors.

3. Reclosure is most likely to keep you up at night 

What the data says: With rising Coronavirus cases, the possibility of reclosure was on most of your minds throughout July. In fact, a quarter of you responded that it was your biggest concern. 

Worries over financial resources running out (23%) and customers being afraid to return (21%) were the next biggest concerns. 

4. Your customers are coming back 

If there’s one thing we as businesses can’t do without, it’s customers. So let’s all take a moment to absorb some more good news. Customers are returning.

Again — it’s true that there’s still a very long way to go. 

What the data says: 

  • 46% of those that have reopened are operating with pre-Covid customer levels at half or less. 
  • 15% of you are yet to reopen at all. 

5. But spending less causes lagging revenue 

Now for some slightly less sunny statistics. Customers may be returning, but revenue levels are still lagging behind the customer growth.

While customers are essential for business, returning to pre-covid levels of revenue generation is doubtless the key marker of economic recovery. Though many of you have found ways to diversify your revenue streams, there seems to be an underlying problem of customers changing their purchasing behavior. 

That change in behavior is likely the cause of the gap between customer growth levels and revenue gains.

Here’s the thing: our “new normal” has created a dependency on major online providers delivering products to our front doors. We believe it’s going to take a concerted long-term effort to retrain consumers to shift their purchasing back to local providers.

That’s why Alignable has launched the #MyMoneyStaysLocal Movement — as a way to encourage both individual and business buyers to think about their purchasing decisions and be aware of how they can impact the local economy.

6. You called the July hiring slowdown, but are optimistic for August

What the data says: In June, we saw a significant lift in employees returning to payroll along with an anticipated slowdown in July. That projected slowdown in July seemed to come to fruition — perhaps you noticed it with your own business.

That said, a lot of you are anticipating a return to further growth in August. And you’re remaining optimistic, setting your hopes on a full recovery by January 2021.

7. Less restrictive states are faring better

This one isn’t much of a surprise. Those of you in the Alignable community who operate in states with less restrictive measures are faring better across the board. 
What the data says:

  • Businesses in states with less restrictions had slightly higher revenues (1-2%). 
  • 7% more of your businesses have fully reopened (59% compared with 52% of states with higher restriction levels). 
  • That said, you’re not as satisfied with the government’s approach. 
  • Those of you in more restrictive states logged a 51% approval rate. 
  • In less restrictive states, 46% said they were satisfied with their local government’s approach.

What’s Your Outlook for August?

As we’ve seen from the July data, the small business community in general is pushing, slowly, toward a path of recovery. And yet, many individual businesses are still suffering from fewer customers, lower revenues, and fears of reclosure. 

On the positive side, there’s a definite note of optimism, with a number of the key figures supporting growth in the right direction. 

One thing we can do to keep that trend is to encourage people to spend locally. So, again, don’t be shy to join the #MyMoneyStaysLocal movement and let people know that where they buy does make a difference! 

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