The vast majority of Brooklyn’s businesses have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 80 percent reporting a stark decline in revenue and 85 percent having to lay off workers in 2020, according to a new study.
The findings, released by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, come as the borough’s small businesses continue to reel from the pandemic because of state-mandated capacity limits and a reduction in customers, said the Chamber’s chief executive.
“The end of the year survey results confirm all that we had been tracking all along in 2020,” said Randy Peers, the president of the Brooklyn Commerce of Commerce. “Small business revenue is in a free fall, 85 percent of businesses let some of their employees go, and a third of businesses still owe back rent.”
Of the vast majority of businesses that have lost revenue, nearly 50 percent raked in less than half of the profits they usually make over the course of 2020, according to the survey.
Interestingly, women- and minority-owned businesses faired slightly better, with 77 percent rather that 80 percent reporting a drop in revenue.
This year may bring renewed hope for Brooklyn’s eateries and entertainment centers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo reopened indoor dining at limited capacity on Valentine’s Day weekend, and indoor entertainment centers will be allowed to reopen in March with safety protocols in place.
The federal Save Our Stages Act, passed at the end of 2020, earmarks $10 billion in aid for independent theaters, music venues, and cinemas — providing a safety net for the entertainment centers that have endured year-long shutdowns.
Still, a majority of Brooklyn businesses said that they needed more grants, rent relief, and marketing support to stay afloat, according to the survey. While approximately 75 percent of all businesses received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program — a federal program meant to help businesses retain their employees — nearly half of respondents said they didn’t receive any rent reductions or concessions throughout the last year.
Peers said that the city and state need to continue allowing stores to reopen in order to save small businesses.
“We need to urgently re-open more of our economy and access much more federal support if our small businesses are to survive in 2021,” he said.