COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – More and more businesses in South Carolina are starting to reopen as Governor Henry McMaster continues to relax restrictions previously put in place in response to the coronavirus.
Consumer confidence will be the one barrier small businesses will have to overcome in order to reopen their doors and stay open during this pandemic.
50% of the state’s workforce is employed by small businesses in the state. Many of those businesses temporarily closed their doors in response to the coronavirus.
In a survey by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, more than 40% of South Carolina businesses have had to lay off or furlough employees.
“A lot of them have been closed. simply because the government told them to close or because there was no business,” said Frank Knapp, the CEO of the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
In that survey, 60% of businesses in the state also say that a lack of business will also be the reason they can’t reopen.
But Frank Knapp says bringing back customers depends on consumer confidence. “If a consumer is being confident they have to do know that they are going to be safe if they go into a business so the business owners and employees have a responsibility.”
The chambers are offering guidelines for stores to reopen including signage in windows that lay out occupancy and social distancing practices to increase that consumer confidence.
But even with those measures in place less than 10% of businesses in the state reported in the chamber’s survey that they would be able to bring back most of their staff in the next 3 months.
“We’re going to lose a lot of small businesses that’s definitely going to happen.”
Federal loans are being offered to help these businesses stay open, but many business owners fear not being able to pay back that loan if they have to close their doors permanently
About 32% of businesses have received a small business loan to help during this time.
50% of businesses say they need the governor to rescind all his orders and for public health officials to reassure it is safe before reopening.