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‘It has been a drastic change’ North Alabama small businesses see range of coronavirus impacts

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.3 percent of small businesses in Alabama are experiencing a "moderate negative effect" due to the pandemic. That's 5.5 percent higher than the national average.

Posted: Sep 9, 2020 9:49 PM
Updated: Sep 9, 2020 11:06 PM

When it comes to asking small businesses across the country 'How are you doing?' the answer can vary pretty notably, especially depending on where they are and which industry they are in.

For Girl Code co-owner Kyla McLeod, it has been a difficult summer.

One of the co-owners of Girl Code in Huntsville checks the iPad register. One of the co-owners of Girl Code in Huntsville checks the iPad register.

"It has been a drastic change, I can say, financially," McLeod said.

Starting in late April, the U.S. Census Bureau started compiling impact reports from small businesses around the county in its Small Business Pulse Survey. The initial data set ran from April 26 through June 27. Phase Two starts on August 9.

For an overall benchmark, the bureau reports a national average of 32.7 percent of businesses that saw a "large negative effect" from the pandemic during the most current week of reporting, August 23-29. Comparatively, 43.8 percent of businesses said they saw a "moderate negative effect."

Alabama is 9.9 percent lower when it comes to small businesses that saw a "large negative effect" and reported only 22.8 percent fit that description. 49.3 percent of Alabama small businesses said they had a "moderate negative effect."

Compared to all national businesses, the Retail Trade did slightly better. Across the country, 27 percent said they saw a "large negative effect" during the most recent week of data and 40.5 percent saw a "moderate negative effect."

McLeod co-owns Girl Code in Huntsville with two other women and they have only been open for a little more than a year. She said they had to start making some businesses shifts to keep things afloat.

"We just had to cut back on like the purchases of merchandise. So instead of purchasing that thousand-dollar order, you would purchase maybe half of that order. Or try to go as little as possible, just to try to stay afloat," McLeod said.

The retail industry also faired better than the national average. 26.9 percent of real estate firms nationally had a “large negative effect” and 42.4 percent saw a “moderate negative effect” from the pandemic.

Other industries are seeing a much more drastic impact from the virus. 68.2 percent of Accommodation and Food Services reported a “large negative effect” from the virus. Similarly, Arts, Entertainment and Recreation businesses said 61.4 percent of them saw a “large negative effect.”

In order to keep many small businesses above water, financial lifelines like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster (EID) loans were requested by 74.3 percent and 26.6 percent of businesses nationally. 72.7 percent and 22.5 percent of businesses received PPP and EID loans respectively.

Meanwhile, 84.9 percent of Alabama small businesses requested a PPP loan and 24 percent requested an EID loan. However, McLeod said unfortunately for her, she didn’t qualify for either.

Only 18.9 percent of all businesses nationwide and 11.7 percent of Alabama businesses didn’t request some type of financial assistance.

Since April, Alabama has seen a downward trend of businesses that reported a "large negative effect" from the pandemic. It started at 40.6 percent and now sits at 22.8 percent. 

Groups like the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce are encouraging people to buy and eat at local places to help further sustain the small businesses.

McLeod said that this period is offering business owners the time to reflect and take stock on how to improve their business models in case something like this ever happens again.

“I think that going through this pandemic, it kind of slowed everybody down and it kind of made everybody look into their own businesses for what it is. So you're kind of learning like the pros and cons and the do's and the don't's,” McLeod said.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 192995

Reported Deaths: 2377
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30953459
Davidson26630306
Hamilton951995
Knox949779
Rutherford936189
Williamson531036
Sumner486598
Wilson351945
Putnam334940
Montgomery311144
Unassigned30425
Out of TN298627
Bradley296217
Madison292164
Sevier263815
Blount253524
Maury240924
Washington232836
Robertson222535
Sullivan219733
Hamblen193926
Tipton183219
Gibson170423
Trousdale16667
Hardeman158226
Wayne14995
Dyer138714
Bedford136417
Dickson127415
Coffee125413
Cumberland121718
Weakley120519
Fayette120419
Anderson120013
Obion119110
Henderson118924
Loudon11846
Carter117728
Greene116144
McMinn114625
Jefferson113014
Warren10757
Lawrence106713
Macon106721
Monroe105218
Hardin104716
Lauderdale99416
Haywood99221
Franklin9899
Lake9252
Roane9055
Carroll89920
McNairy89618
Bledsoe8624
White8479
Rhea84412
Hawkins82218
Cheatham81510
Marshall7785
Overton7586
Cocke7549
Smith73111
Johnson7262
Chester64310
Giles63117
Henry6289
Lincoln6241
Hickman5938
DeKalb57014
Crockett54219
Marion5338
Decatur5307
Fentress5263
Campbell4544
Claiborne4425
Polk39910
Grainger3863
Union3642
Benton3379
Jackson3315
Morgan3203
Grundy3095
Cannon2920
Unicoi2891
Humphreys2583
Sequatchie2381
Clay2335
Meigs2283
Houston2243
Scott2172
Stewart2142
Lewis2041
Moore1791
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1083

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