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Where Small Business Owners Say COVID-19 Hasn’t Hurt Business

The coronavirus pandemic pushed 45.7 million Americans to file for unemployment benefits at some point during the crisis, but some U.S. companies have not seen a negative impact on business as usual.

The Census Bureau surveyed small business owners on the effects of the pandemic. LendingTree researchers analyzed the results to determine where business owners are feeling minimal ramifications. Business owners in the South and Southeast were most likely to report no negative effects resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Key findings

  • Louisville tops our list with 17.9% of business owners reporting no negative effects on operations. About 3% of entrepreneurs in Louisville say the pandemic has had a positive impact on their business.
  • Virginia Beach takes the No. 2 spot — 16.6% of business owners have not been negatively impacted.
  • Phoenix rounds out the top three with 16.1% of business owners responding similarly.
  • Detroit ranks last on our list with just 5.6% of business owners reporting no negative effect on business during the pandemic. The city largely depends on the auto industry, which has suffered severe losses in recent months. Even right before the crisis, spending on motor vehicles and parts dropped 30% between the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • New York has had the largest outbreak to date and entrepreneurs there say the virus has been bad for business (just 7.3% report no negative effects).
  • San Francisco, despite its relatively mild outbreak of COVID-19, saw similar negative responses, as 8.9% of small business owners have seen no negative effects from the virus. One possible explanation could be that highly paid workers migrated away from California’s high cost of living areas to cheaper areas or hometowns, depriving local businesses of their usual consumers.
  • Retail business owners reported the highest rates of positive effects of the pandemic. In the last week of May, for example, 11.2% said COVID-19 has had a positive or very positive effect on business.

States where COVID-19 has had minimal impact on businesses

1. Louisville, Ky.

In our No. 1 city, 17.9% of business owners cited no negative effects resulting from the spread of COVID-19. Among those respondents, 14.7% reported little or no effects, while 3.2% saw positive changes during the pandemic.

Louisville has had 3,613 cases of coronavirus and 199 deaths, as of June 24. Many businesses in Louisville have been permitted to reopen at limited or full capacity, including restaurants, bars, fitness centers and racetracks. Some local business owners share a sense of optimism in regard to reopening and are focusing on strengthening their operations as customers return.

2. Virginia Beach, Va.

Virginia Beach is a bit behind Louisville with 16.6% of survey respondents saying the virus has not had a negative effect on their business. About 13% have seen little or no impact, while 3.5% have seen positive effects.

Virginia Beach has seen 1,038 COVID-19 cases and 27 deaths, as of June 24. The beaches in Virginia Beach recently reopened to the public, and local businesses hope to benefit from increased visitors in the area. However, the Virginia Beach Development Authority approved $1.3 million in early June to help city businesses that are still struggling.

3. Phoenix, Ariz.

Phoenix comes in a close third with 16.1% of businesses owners saying they have not seen a negative effect on their ventures during the pandemic. Out of those business owners, 13.3% reported little or no effect, while 2.8% said they’ve had positive changes within their companies.

In Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, there have been 34,993 coronavirus cases and 654 deaths, as of June 24. The city of Phoenix has been offering grants between $5,000 and $10,000 to help business owners offset financial distress or losses related to the pandemic or costs associated with reopening. Most nonessential businesses have been allowed to reopen since May. But some, such as restaurants, are now voluntarily closing once again as the coronavirus spreads among employees.

Methodology

In order to rank the metro areas where business owners say COVID-19 has not hurt business, we analyzed data for all 50 metro areas in the Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey. We took the average of five weeks of survey data covering the period between April 26 and May 30, 2020.

We compared the metro areas according to how small business owners answered the question, “Overall how has this business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?” We look at the portion of small business owners who answered “little or no effect, “moderate positive effect” and “large positive effect.”

 

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