By Annie Spilman
It’s been a rough year for small businesses, and it isn’t over yet.
The beginning of 2020 was OK, but things took a nosedive after the coronavirus arrived in March. Millions of Texans lost their jobs as shoppers practiced social distancing and shops and restaurants were forced to operate under strict limitations to reduce the spread of the pandemic. Some businesses intended to close temporarily only to realize later they had closed for good.
COVID-19 has taken a toll on all kinds of industries, but it’s been especially rough on small businesses. Small businesses don’t have the cash reserves of a large corporation to carry them through the tough times. They count on their customers, which is why it’s important that we support them on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season.
Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, was created 10 years ago to help local merchants recover from another economic crisis, the Great Recession. It has since become a tradition. Last year, Americans spent nearly $20 billion at independent shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey from American Express and my association, the National Federation of Independent Business.
It won’t be easy, but we have to keep the momentum going.
Small business is absolutely essential to the Texas economy. They account for 99.8 percent of all businesses in the state and 4.8 million jobs. And while people get distracted by big corporations that add a few hundred jobs here and there, the Small Business Administration points out that small businesses are responsible for a net increase of 227,487 jobs statewide in 2019.
Meet the local women who are going to help you shop small this Christmas in the December issues of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, in news racks and mailboxes this week.
It’s too soon to measure the full impact of the coronavirus on Texas businesses, but when NFIB surveyed its members last month, we found that 19 percent of owners say they’ll need to close in seven months to a year under current economic conditions, while 15 percent said three to six months and 3 percent said they might have to close in a month or two.
On the national front, NFIB is asking Congress to pass additional financial assistance to help small businesses get through this crisis, but there are easy steps we can take here at home to help local businesses avoid layoffs and keep the doors open:
- We can shop local and shop small – not just on Small Business Saturday but throughout the holiday season. Small shops and restaurants offer deals – and service – that you won’t find at the chains.
- We can shop local businesses online or order by phone and take advantage of delivery or curbside pickup.
- Small Business Saturday isn’t just about retail. It’s about restaurants, too, and if we want to sit down with our family and friends at our favorite restaurant after this is over, we have to support them now. All kinds of restaurants, including a lot of fancy sit-down places, offer take-out and delivery.
Texas needs its small businesses. This holiday shopping season, more than ever, small businesses need us.
Annie Spilman is the Texas director of the National Federation of Independent Business.