Pandemic affects small businesses


Image source: Yankee Ingenuity

Aubrie Schneeberger, Contributing Writer

The coronavirus has led to uncertainty across the world, but how has it affected our local businesses on the Cape? 

During 2020, so many stores had to temporarily close for the safety of shoppers and employees, and some weren’t able to re-open. On top of that, the popularity of online shopping is constantly rising, especially because of the pandemic, so big corporations are putting smaller shops out of business.

A survey made by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) showed that out of 5,800 small businesses in America, 43% said that they were temporarily closed due to covid. 

3/10 of small businesses in the country think that it would be unlikely for them to make it through 2021 without government assistance. The outlook was even worse for minority business owners: 8/10 said that their store was in poor financial conditions. 

The rise of online shopping is another thing to consider. So many people online shopped in 2020 that it marked the highest amount of online sales ever recorded. Online shopping thrived because, understandably, so many people were nervous to go out and about. But this had negative impacts on local stores. 

I talked to Sharon Hayes, the local storeowner of Yankee Ingenuity, about what the pandemic was like for her and her husband’s business.

“We closed for a hundred and four days during 2020, and it was really, really hard because we didn’t know if we were going to be able to re-open,” Hayes said. While closed, they had options of curbside pickup, deliveries, and website orders to keep the lines of communication open with the customers. 

There was an immense worry about how to keep everyone safe, both the customers and staff. Once they were able to re-open, many new safety precautions were put in place: plexiglass around the counters, hand sanitizers at every door and register, new air purifiers, customer limits, masks would be handed out to anyone who didn’t have one and more. These safety measures added new costs that weren’t there before.

With the mail being so slow, much more planning has to go into what items to buy for the shop. “I used to order stuff and it would come in a week or two. Now it might come in six or twelve months,” Hayes stated. Before ordering from a vendor, she calls to see what they have in stock at the time to ensure that the store will always have enough inventory. 

More people would come into the store in the off-seasons because of people working from home on Cape Cod. The 2020 census results show that there are much fewer vacant homes on Cape Cod in 2020 compared to 2010 because of how many people now work remotely from a house on the Cape. 

Although it’s been difficult, local shops have been working so hard to provide customers with the comfort to go shopping out on the town. “I think it’s mostly just about keeping everyone safe and trying to provide a more normal experience for shoppers,” Hayes closed.