NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The pandemic has made for one of the hardest years ever for local small businesses, many of whom told us their fears of closing.
Small business owners have been struggling to survive since March, but they don’t know how long they’ll be able to keep up the fight. Many have already shut down and with more heading in that direction, cities and towns know that could mean serious repercussions for the local economy.
West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt told 22News “2020 is the great unknown we have no idea what’s happening next or what and how we are going to handle what we are going to handle.” No counties in Massachusetts have been immune to the virus, or their fare share of crumbling small businesses.
Northampton businesses have been able to withstand the pandemic, but the winter could mean an end to some nearby businesses. “I’m hoping they will change their minds and stick it out but I know of at least two that said they won’t make it past January.” Judy Herrell, owner of Herrell’s Ice Cream
The 22News I-Team wanted to find out just how many small businesses have closed during the pandemic. We found out that there is no organization or government agency that tracks this data.
West Springfield Mayor Reichelt said “There really isn’t a good way to track that because we don’t have the tools or resources to do that.” Back in May, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts said that about 30 percent of small businesses in the state feared they’d close during the pandemic..
But even they won’t know whether they have closed until months later.
Jon Hurst President, Retailers Association of Massachusetts told 22News “We wouldn’t’ know right? If we have a member that went out of business they aren’t responding to our survey monkeys anymore.”
Hurst told the 22News I-Team it’ll be up to the customer in order for small businesses to make it this winter. “This is the kind of a make or break time the fourth quarter. If you’re a restaurant you may have treaded water with some outdoor dining. Every small business needs higher sales or lower costs to survive.”
The 22News I-Team did find out that about a fifth of restaurants in the state have already closed during the pandemic, with the state’s minimum wage going up next year, as well as small business health insurance premiums, Hurst expects the road to only get worse for business owners. Another stimulus bill and the November election results could also be important factors on whether they last.