A new survey from Alignable, which polled 10,325 small business owners in January, found that one-third of businesses were unable to pay rent this month. The same survey was conducted periodically throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, the percentage of businesses unable to make rent payments has remained nearly stagnant, according to the surveys conducted in April (34 percent) and September (32 percent).
Additionally, according to this month’s report, 49 percent of minority small business owners and 35 percent of women-owned businesses couldn’t pay rent.
Fifty-seven percent of surveyed businesses were restaurant and bar owners and 44 percent were consumer retailers. For the first time since the poll’s inception, nearly 40 percent of respondents in 10 different business categories reported they could not afford to pay rent. In November, only restaurants and bars and salons reached the 40 percent range. These increases show how COVID-19 restrictions continue to impact small businesses across all industry sectors.
The survey broke down the rates of small businesses that weren’t able to pay rent by state. Forty-one percent of mom and pop shops in New Jersey, Georgia, and Maryland couldn’t afford rent this month. In Illinois the number dropped to 37 percent and in California and North Carolina it fell to 36 percent.
These results show the devastating reality Main Street continues to face during this pandemic. Not being able to pay rent has a ripple effect way behind the brick-and-mortar store. While a new round of the Paycheck Protection Program has opened for applicants, the only true way to allow these businesses to gain economic stability once again is to give them the green light to reopen.
With the continued distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Small businesses are the engine of our economy, but they won’t survive if they’re shuttered for much longer.