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WNY businesses say COVID-19 impact cuts deep

Buffalo Niagara Partnership releases results of study that included input from 1,800 businesses across WNY.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Following weeks of shuttered shops, salons, restaurants, and the like, it's no surprise that Western New York's business community says the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has been severe.

On Tuesday, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership released the results of its WNY COVID-19 Business Impact Survey that included responses from 1,800 businesses. With assistance from the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, the counties of Erie and Niagara, and some 20 chambers of commerce, the aim was to gauge the impact the crisis was having on businesses and employers.

The majority of respondents, 71%, identified themselves as the private sector and the remainder as non-profit or independent contractors.

Nearly all who responded,93%, say they have seen a revenue decline due to COVID-19. Many have been forced to make changes including staff cuts, hiring freezes, and salary adjustments.

Dottie Gallagher, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership said small businesses have experienced significant impact.

"The larger the business the less the impact believe it or not. So where we see businesses that are most troubled and concerned and worried about staying in business are the smaller businesses and the smaller the business the greater the concern" said Gallagher.

Susan Morreale is the co-owner of Her Story and Her Sanctuary, a retail and event space on Hertel ave. that celebrates women and overall wellness.

"The reality of it is, it’s been very challenging," said Morreale. "I mean I’m self-employed. This is my livelihood and it’s been a challenge to try and get through unemployment. Everybody’s trying to do that but I feel like as far as our landlord, he’s been very kind and understanding because you know what? We are all in this together it’s not just one person or one business we are all being affected by it."

“For those of us monitoring the fallout from COVID-19, the results of the survey are not shocking, but they are a stark indicator of how much work lies ahead for the public and private sectors as our community pivots to recovery,” said Gallagher. “COVID-19 has brought about an unprecedented economic upheaval. Recovery will largely depend on government, at all levels, responding to needs and providing vital supports, while the private sector must collaborate in new ways to ensure Western New York business, large and small, rebound as quickly as possible.”

Survey details:

  • 93% of respondents are experiencing a decline in revenue related to COVID-19 o Most report a loss of 50% or less of expected revenue   
  • 3 out of 5 businesses have postponed investment, many of them indefinitely  
  • 75% of respondents have applied or are planning to apply for federal business assistance loans
  • 51% of businesses are reducing variable costs 
  • 43% are reducing fixed costs 
  • 2 out of 3 respondents report implementing a staffing change including reducing positions or adjusting wages/salaries 
  • More than 1/3 of businesses have reduced staff, mainly through temporary layoff or furloughs 
  • 60% of respondents have implemented a hiring freeze 

The survey results will be further discussed at a webinar Wednesday, May 6 at 1 P.M. People interested in participating can register here.

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