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Most Missouri small businesses expect to remain open despite coronavirus impact, new report says

  

A majority of small business owners in Missouri are confident they will remain open despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey. 

Facebook surveyed more than 35,000 small business owners around the world, including 511 in Missouri, for its Global State of Small Businesses Report in February. The report, which included state-level data for the first time, examined the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, how they adjusted, and what business owners expect in the future. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses around the world for over a year, with changing restrictions and signs of hope with the start of the vaccine rollout,” the report read. “Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been hit particularly hard due to their vulnerability to economic shocks. Given their importance to the economic recovery, it is essential that policymakers and government leaders understand their perspectives, challenges, and opportunities.”

In Missouri, 62 percent of small businesses reported confidence in their ability to remain open despite the effects of the pandemic.

33 percent of small businesses said they had reduced employment due to the pandemic, 5 points above the national average. Missouri was one of the states with the highest number of business owners reporting they did not have plans to rehire former employees over the next six months at 63 percent. 

Of women-owned businesses, 59 percent reported lower sales, surpassing the national average by 5 points. Ohio and Illinois reported similar rates, while 45 percent of businesses operated by men in Missouri reported a fall in sales. 

Despite these statistics, only 18 percent of small business owners said they expected a lack of demand and customers, falling five points below the national average. Of those surveyed, 79 percent said they were operational or generating revenue, one point above the national average. 

The report found restaurants, cafes, and hotels were most likely to see substantial impacts from the pandemic, with 20 percent of those surveyed in the U.S. reporting closures. Most American businesses said they had to adapt in the face of the pandemic, with 60 percent of those surveyed reporting at least one change to the way they did business. 

Missouri businesses faced difficulty through the pandemic, with layoffs and closures leading to near-record unemployment numbers last year. Various bills in the legislature seek to provide relief for businesses, from tax credits to COVID liability protections.