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Local businesses struggling, some are going under

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Journal Staff

Numerous local businesses have not yet reopened and there’s no indication when they will, says the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation.

“That is of concern. The longer they’re closed the greater risk that they’ll be unable to reopen,” said general manager Don Anderson.

“They’re going to deplete their working capital.”

The SLBDC is a non-profit, community-based corporation that provides start-up loans and ongoing counselling to hundreds of local businesses.

When the pandemic arrived in March it offered three-month loan deferrals to about 100 businesses, and roughly 70% accepted. A second three-month deferral has been offered.

Anderson said some that pivoted their operations appear to be doing fairly well.

“If you’re sitting on your hands you will not make it through this,” he said. “Most of them are telling me they’ve never worked harder, and a lot of these folks work pretty hard at the best of times.”

Hospitality and tourism has been hit especially hard. The Journal is aware of at least seven local restaurants that have already thrown in the towel, though many don’t want to announce their demise.

Successful eateries trimmed their menus, managed kitchen costs, and embraced the new reality of curbside and take-out service, Anderson said.

Most businesses he knows of are earning just enough to scrape by right now. But the pandemic has also created opportunities, for example in food delivery and personal shopping.

And the economic bounce-back when it happened locally will be slow, he added.

“When it starts to pick back up… are we going to see (customers) going back full throttle? No.

“I think it’s going to be an extended recovery.”

Almost half of Canadians know a business that

has closed permanently due to COVID-19, and eight out of 10 say they wish they could do more, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

As of last week, the CFIB’s recovery dashboard showed: 58% per cent of businesses fully open, 23% making normal sales for this time of year, and 34% back to normal staffing levels.

The hospitality sector, which includes restaurants and hotels, was just 7% back to normal sales.

The CFIB has launched a campaign (#SmallBusinessEveryDay) to help as many small businesses as possible survive the current crisis.

Its message to everyone: think local and spend local.

“Small actions like buying a cupcake or a cup of coffee, finding a local business, or recommending a business to others on social media can make a big difference to small business survival,” said executive vice-president Laura Jones.


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