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Regional survey shows 17-percent more businesses are open since mid-May 

As the pandemic wages on, top concern shifts from US economy to overall public health, survey shows

–Nearly 600 businesses between Solvang and San Miguel responded to the second Central Coast Coalition of Chambers COVID-19 impact survey, providing data to back up what chambers of commerce throughout the region are hearing from their members every day.

The survey ran from June 29 – July 8, 2020, and covered topics including general sentiment, financial impacts, general challenges, and reopening status of businesses. The first survey from the coalition was sent out mid-May.

Conditions on the ground

Where possible, many businesses have adapted operations to fit the circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis. More than 34-percent report establishing alternative ways to sell and deliver products and nearly 32-percent have changed the products/services they offer.

“We’ve seen a 14 point decrease in businesses that reported a more than 50-percent loss in revenue, which reflects what we’ve been hearing — revenue is up as businesses have reopened with additional health and safety protocols, increasing consumer confidence.” said Jim Dantona, Chair of the Central Coast Coalition of Chambers. “It’s been an unprecedented, challenging time, but the evidence is clear. As long as our community follows health and safety guidance, we can continue down the path of rebuilding our economy, while keeping our residents and community safe.”

The most vulnerable industries once again reported the largest financial hit to their business. 17-percent of those surveyed in food and beverage hospitality reported a more than 50-percent decrease in revenue, with lodging and retail both reporting at 9-percent. And while nearly 31-percent reported laying off or furloughing at least one employee, many businesses are reopening and looking to bring staff back. However, some are having trouble hiring, with more than 16-percent reporting having trouble staffing their business.

Challenges

As in May, an overwhelming majority of respondents reported still feeling unsure and believe that “the economy will be impacted for 6-12 months or longer and will stagnate or show slow growth thereafter”. While those who responded that they are unsure about the future jumped nearly 7 points since May, those who are feeling pessimistic and think “COVID-19 will have lasting impact on the economy and show regression/fall into a lengthy recession” dropped by 4 points.

Respondents’ top three concerns as it relates to the crisis are the negative impact on their job/income/business, not knowing how long the situation will last, and overall public health. In May, the US economy was of higher concern than overall public health, which shows the effect the rising infection numbers have had on the community’s outlook.

Unsurprisingly, revenue/cash flow remains the number one challenge, 43-percent, by a large margin but nearly 54-percent of respondents report receiving some of all of the federal funding they applied for. In May, only 44-percent reported receiving funds from the EIDL or PPP loans.

Trending up

The most promising sign is that 38-percent of businesses reported being able to open in some fashion, a more than 17 point jump from May. Along similar lines, there was a 9 point increase in ‘fully opened’ businesses a jump from 3-percent to 12-percent.

While more than 38-percent of respondents would describe current conditions for their business as fair, 33-percent described conditions as good or excellent, more than 15 points up from May’s survey and 4 points from those that described conditions as poor or catastrophic.

“While these results show our region is still suffering, the uptick in opened businesses and positive change in businesses’ view of current conditions is promising.” said Gina Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce. “Our businesses are resilient and the Coalition will continue to advocate on their behalf and work to ensure the conditions further improve.”

Please find a breakdown of the survey results by question here in Excel format. For more information contact Jacqui Clark-Charlesworth at jacqui@slochamber.org or (760) 473-3531.

About The Coalition of Central Coast Chambers

The Coalition of Central Coast Chambers is made up of Chambers in both San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara County: Atascadero Chamber, Buellton Chamber, Cambria Chamber, Lompoc Chamber, Los Osos/Baywood Park Chamber, Morro Bay Chamber, Paso Robles Chamber, San Luis Obispo Chamber, Santa Maria Chamber, Solvang Chamber, South County Chambers and Templeton Chamber. CHAIR: Jim Dantona – CEO, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.



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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.