A survey released on August 24th by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce confirms what many New Yorkers knew - or at least predicted - would happen as the coronavirus pandemic has dragged on, with guidance and support at all levels of government leaving much to be desired: local small businesses - many of which are commercial tenants in co-op and condo buildings - are facing extraordinary challenges on multiple fronts, and many will struggle to stay open through the fall.
According to the survey of 234 small businesses in Brooklyn alone, half reported 50 percent or greater losses in revenue during summer 2020. Twenty-five percent of businesses reported losses in revenue between 26 and 50 percent, and 11 percent of businesses reported losses between 15 and 25 percent. The data is the fifth Business Impact Survey presented by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce since April, representing the most comprehensive and up-to-date insights and experiences from Brooklyn businesses during the pandemic.
The financial freefall of these businesses means nothing good for the city’s expanding rent and commercial vacancy crisis; according to the survey, 28 percent of businesses could not pay rent in August, 39 percent owe previous months’ back rent, and 53 percent said they would struggle to stay open during the next three months. The situation is especially dire for restaurants and cafes, which have been able to scratch out some income thanks to the option of opening sidewalk seating areas - but those local businesses are looking over a financial cliff once the weather gets colder and wetter, and dining outside isn’t an option.
When asked by the BCC what kind of resources and support would help small businesses prevent permanent closure, a huge majority - 83 percent - said cash grants are “very important.” Sixty-nine percent said rent relief is “very important,” 53 percent said low-interest loans are “very important,” and 45 percent said personal protective equipment (PPE) is “very important.”
According to Randy Peers, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, resilient as Brooklyn’s business community is, “The small businesses that make up our neighborhoods and sustain our communities are facing unprecedented economic challenges, requiring immediate support, grants and urgent rent relief if they are going to survive.”
In response to the crisis, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has mobilized to make itself a “recovery hub” for small businesses in need, providing PPE grants to help businesses sanitize their facilities, awarding zero-interest loans through the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund, and distributing donated PPE. Peers also regularly tours Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and other commercial corridors through the “Chamber on the Go” initiative to learn first-hand how businesses are managing through the crisis.
To view full survey results, click here.