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Small businesses see profound impact from COVID-19

Arkansas officials expect unemployment claims to rise between 8,000 to 10,000 in the coming days as a result of the coronavirus emergency.
Credit: Talk Business & Politics

ARKANSAS, USA — The National Federation of Independent Business said its research shows the coronavirus outbreak is having a stark effect on small businesses as the situation drags on. 

NFIB reports 76% of small businesses (under 360 employees) surveyed last week consider the disruption as profound.

This has escalated from just under one-quarter of small businesses reporting the same earlier this month.

The survey found about 5% of businesses said the impact has been positive.

 These firms are likely experiencing stronger sales due to a sharp rise in demand for certain products, goods, and services. 

This will presumably ease in the coming weeks as consumers feel more secure about their personal supply levels, NFIB said.

The national survey did not provide state-specific data, but Arkansas officials said they expect unemployment claims to rise between 8,000 to 10,000 in the coming days from people displaced from their jobs amid social distancing guidelines and the temporary shutdown of many businesses from fitness centers to nail salons and dentists’ offices.

Sylvester Smith, director of NFIB, said of those businesses negatively impacted, 23% are experiencing supply chain disruptions, 54% slower sales, and 9% sick employees. 

The 9% of owners citing sick employees likely responded out of heightened concern and precautions with sick employees showing some signs of cold or flu-like symptoms, but not necessarily because they have employees who have tested positive for the virus.

NFIB said almost all small business owners are taking some sort of action adjusting to their changing economic condition or to protect themselves from potential disruption. 

Just 6% of owners have not taken any action in response to the outbreak, a marked departure from 52% not taking action two weeks ago.

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The level of concern among small business owners about the coronavirus impacting their businesses has elevated significantly over the past two weeks.

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