December 21, 2020

According to Yelp’s most recent economic impact report, more than 163,000 U.S. businesses have shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year. That’s bad, but it gets worse. Yelp also reports 98,000, or 60 percent, of those businesses are gone permanently:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provided $2.2 trillion in emergency loans to qualified businesses for certain purposes, including payroll and rent. This was known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and allowed many small and medium-sized businesses to stay afloat.

But the funding mostly ran out at the end of July and no bipartisan agreement has been reached to expand the PPP or other any other form of meaningful stimulus.

Now with COVID-19 cases spiking again, restaurants, retailers, and other small businesses that have been among the hardest hit face critical questions about whether they can survive through what will likely be several more months of COVID-related operating restrictions. Many previous PPP borrowers have already spent the money, and more than half said they need more financial support in the months ahead.

We’re seeing sad, sudden, and premature endings to local establishments nationwide. Absent help, owners are simply throwing in the towel because they can’t operate under these conditions forever. Perhaps things will change, but the Yelp report trends don’t bode well for the country.