Comeback Coming: Consulting Firm Gauges Virus Impact on Local Businesses

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Main News Photo

Amidst a turbulent season for retail and restaurants, James Maple opened The Lamplighter Trading Company in the former home of Green Marble Coffee. James has been pleasantly surprised by customer response, but most small businesses reached a nadir in revenue in April based on a survey of local businesses by economic experts at NaviRetail.

In a campaign to help Groton businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the Town of Groton has partnered with consulting firm NaviRetail on a multi-stage analysis of local business activity. Connecting directly with local business owners is a key method of understanding which industries and sectors are being impacted the most and how assistance and resources should be allocated. There will be four phases of surveying with the last ending after the holiday season.

The Phase I phone survey of Groton business owners was conducted June 1-12, 2020, prior to the opening of indoor dining. The next phone survey, beginning August 10, will ask business owners about revenue, operations and what would be the most help to them during this stage of the recovery.

By the Numbers

  • 373 Groton businesses responded to the phone survey calls
  • Businesses impacted most severely: Fitness Centers, Salons, Lodging, Sole Proprietors, Apparel Stores
  • 13 percent of businesses expressed concerns about a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of the businesses forced to close were small businesses with annual revenues below $500,000.
  • Retail revenues dropped 29 percent from March to April.
  • 28 percent of businesses that applied for Federal relief loans or grants were rejected.
  • 14 percent of businesses expressed concern about necessary supplies.

Bottom Line

Revenues for most local businesses began dropping March 1, two weeks prior to mandatory closures, before leveling off to a low point in April. Although impacts will continue to vary across sectors, as cases have receded, business activity increases have followed. Data from the next phase of phone surveys is expected to show a rebound from the April low in revenues.

Recommendations

  • Online presence is a must for brick-and-mortar businesses
  • Cross-promotion campaigns would benefit businesses, especially during the tourist season
  • Safety instructions and signage should have consistent ‘branding’ town-wide
  • Current business hours of restaurants, retailers and personal services should be posted in an online directory
  • Provide businesses with PPE especially face masks for customers

What’s Next

Phone surveys of Groton business owners will begin again on Monday, August 10. Town-wide participation will improve the accuracy of the data.

Category: Economic Development