Initial results of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance’s COVID-19 Economic Impact survey – a joint effort with the Long Beach Economic Development Department, Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Council of Business Associations (COBA) – have revealed deep economic impacts among businesses related to COVID-19. The data will inform the efforts of these organizations, as well as the City, in advocating for and assisting businesses through the recovery process.

The survey, which was distributed by each entity, resulted in 500 responses from business owners and operators, including independent contractors, and provides insight into their current challenges and greatest needs. Key preliminary results found that about 56% of respondents have permanently laid off or furloughed employees, and about 83% have experienced a decline in sales. Finalized results, which will be broken down by industry sector, will be available in the coming weeks.

DLBA’s Research and Public Policy Analyst, Morris Mills, provided initial results regarding a handful of industries, including restaurants, personal grooming, construction, and fitness and wellness. “We’re still analyzing the full dataset, but unsurprisingly these first findings indicate that this group of sectors has been significantly affected by the public health crisis, particularly when it comes to financial impacts,” Mills said.

Business owners and operators cited inability to pay bills and fees, declining sales, and a lack of rent reductions as their top financial impacts.

Among these four industries, the hardest hit respondents in terms of business closures are those working in personal grooming. Due to government health orders, 100% of these establishments were forced to close their doors. Fitness and wellness businesses were also heavily impacted, with 73% of respondents reporting they had fully closed.

Asked what resources are necessary for businesses to recover from COVID-19 impacts, the majority cited financial assistance resources, including emergency grants and business loans, and relaxed fees and taxes.

“The survey also assessed different scenarios related to the recovery process,” said DLBA Economic Development and Policy Manager Austin Metoyer. “Businesses were asked about their likelihood to reopen with full operations if the Safer At Home order remained in place for 2 months, 4 months or 6 months. Results varied by industry, but as you can imagine, the highest number of ‘unlikely’ responses fell under the 6-month scenario.”

According to Metoyer, DLBA’s Economic Development Department will harness the full survey results to inform new programming and tools to assist Downtown businesses. “Connecting Downtown businesses with financial resources, informing them about government guidelines, providing them with technical assistance tools, and advising our elected officials on sound economic and health policy is going to be key moving forward,” Metoyer said. “In May, as a first step, we are launching a webinar series designed to address those priorities.”