Apr 7, 2021 - Economy

Small business owners are shifting worries from COVID to inflation

Worker at a New York deli.

A New York deli. Photo: Amir Hamja/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new poll of more than 10,000 small business owners finds that even as nearly half (48%) are earning less than 50% of their monthly, pre-pandemic revenues, their worries are moving from COVID-19 to the increasing cost of goods and supplies.

What's happening: The latest survey from Alignable finds "a newfound optimism that expedited vaccine distribution in the U.S. has kick-started the beginning of a recovery for some industries and groups, while others still suffer."

By the numbers: While 75% of small and medium-sized businesses still report negative effects from the pandemic, the percentage claiming they've seen a "significant negative impact" has dropped 20% from last month to 38%.

  • "This marks the first time in a year that this number has dipped below 40%," the survey's authors note.

Details: 62% of small businesses are now fully open, reversing a five-month decline and showing a 17% increase over last month.

  • Hiring for small businesses has been flat for months, but owners now predict that 98% of pre-pandemic employees will be back on payrolls by August. 
  • Small business owners said their top concern was that fresh government shutdowns would begin again given the surge in new COVID-19 case counts.

What to watch: An increasing percentage of small business owners "list skyrocketing prices of supplies as a major concern, sounding the alarm about inflation," Alignable notes.

  • Over the past two months, concern about the cost of supplies has jumped to the highest level in the short history of the survey.
  • A total of 17% of business owners listed rising prices as their top concern. That number has almost doubled from where it was in February (9%) and more than tripled from November (6%).
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