Utah small businesses suffered deep damage from pandemic, says Census Bureau survey

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) The Red Iguana restaurant in Salt Lake City, closed on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

Four of every five small businesses in Utah have sought financial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, and more than a quarter figure that returning to normal will require at least six months.

One of every 14 say their businesses will never return to normal.

That’s according to the first of what will be weekly Small Business Pulse Surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau to help see how the pandemic affects them.

It included results from 22,449 businesses surveyed nationally from April 26 to May 2, but it did not say initially how many were from Utah. Small business that were invited to participate have up to 499 employees, and at least $1,000 in annual revenue.

The survey shows that Utah businesses report deep damage from the pandemic, and many of them expect that to continue for a long time. Key findings include:

• 39% say the pandemic had a big negative impact on their business, 48.5% say it had a moderate negative impact and 9.4% said it had little or no impact.

• Nearly four of every five, or 79.3%, of Utah small businesses say they sought some kind of financial assistance during the pandemic. That includes 75% that sought help from the Paycheck Protection Program, 26.2% that sought Economic Injury Disaster loans, 9.1% that sought forgiveness of Small Business Administration loans, and 8.4% that sought bank loans.

• About one of every four, or 27.6%, believe it will take more than six months for their business to return to normal — while 7% believe their operations will never return to normal. Also, 22.3% say it will take two to three months, and another 31.7% say it will take four to six months.

• Nearly a third of Utah small businesses — 31.6% — said they closed at least one of their business locations in the week before they were surveyed.

• Nearly one of every five, 19.4%, reported they had a decrease in the number of paid employees in the previous week. And 45% reported a decrease in the number of hours worked by employees during that week.

• Two of every five Utah businesses, 39.7%, reported disruptions in their supply chain during the previous week.

• One of every nine, 11%, reported that in the previous week, they adopted pickup, carry-out or delivery as their only means of providing goods and services to customers.

• Many report that they have little cash on hand, including 43% that say their cash reserves will cover less than a month of operations.

• One of every nine, 9.3%, reported that they have missed at least one loan payment since the national emergency was declared on March 13. Also, 18.7% said they have missed other types of scheduled payments.

• 65.7% reported a decrease in operating revenues in the previous week, while only 6.7% reported an increase and the rest said revenues were unchanged.