NFIB: Alabama’s small businesses need our support during the COVID-19 crisis
There’s no doubt that Alabama’s small businesses are feeling the impact of the coronavirus.
Under advice from state and federal officials, people are staying in unless they absolutely have to leave the house, and that’s taking a toll on sales.
According to a survey released Monday by the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, 76% of small businesses say they’ve been impacted in some way by the response to COVID-19. Fifty-four percent report weaker sales, while 23% say they’ve had trouble getting the supplies they need.
Twenty percent of small businesses say they haven’t been affected yet by the novel coronavirus, but most of them believe it will affect them eventually if the outbreak spreads in their immediate areas. About 5% say it’s helped their businesses, likely because of a virus-related spike in specific supplies or services.
As NFIB’s state director for Alabama, the impact the virus is having on small businesses concerns me. Small business is the heart and soul of our economy. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for about 99.4% of all employers in the state and employ 47.2% of the state’s workforce.
Small businesses keep the economy strong. They create jobs, support our schools, and give to our charities. They’re the glue that holds our hometowns together.
That’s why I believe it’s important for everyone to continue to shop local and shop small during this extraordinary crisis.
This is a challenging time for Alabama’s small businesses, but they’re trying to deliver the goods and services their customers need as safely as they can and showing a real determination to get through this, and we can help.
Here are some simple ways everyone can help lessen the impact the coronavirus is taking on small business owners and employees:
· Order something to eat. Grocery stores might be sold out of fresh chicken and ground beef, but restaurants, are still pretty well stocked. And while we might not be able to sit down for a meal, many eateries are still making deliveries or letting people pick up meals.
· Tip workers a little extra, if you can. Food servers and delivery drivers depend on tips, and with business down, they’re not making as much money as they did a couple of weeks ago.
· Shop online. You might not be able to go shopping, but lots of local stores have their own websites and will let you order by phone or online.
· Buy gift cards and certificates to local businesses. Order them now online or by phone and use them later.
Small businesses are doing their best to get through this without cutting jobs or closing their doors, and we can help blunt the impact the coronavirus is having on the local economy by continuing to support the family-run businesses that support our communities throughout the year.
Rosemary Elebash is the National Federation of Independent Business’ state director for Alabama.