Hundreds of billions of dollars, earmarked to save small to mid-sized businesses.
And according to more than 2,000 consumers queried by PYMNTS as part of our continuing coverage of life amid – and looking out toward beyond – the pandemic, the government should do whatever it takes to save these smaller firms.
The lockdown has forced businesses across all verticals to cut staff or reduce hours – and shutter entirely, if (hopefully) temporarily.
And while health concerns trump pretty much everything else right now, consumers are mindful of the economic toll being exacted from these smaller firms – where, as we’ve noted before, Main Street represents 28.3 percent of total employment, 36 percent of total establishments and more than 23 percent of wages.
The urgency is there, too, where time is of the essence. In March, the 200 SMBs we spoke to as part of the survey “Main Street on Lockdown” reported that there was enough cash on hand to get through the next 20 days.
The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) may help alleviate that cash crunch, but it’s likely that more will need to be done. In our latest interaction with the 2,000 consumers offering a window into life within a pandemic, 64.1 percent said they believed the government should provide funding to help SMBs cope with the crisis.
Drill down a bit, and the support for, well, government support gains ground among older demographics. PYMNTS found that baby boomers and seniors, at more than 75 percent, are among the most likely groups to say that SMBs need to be supported by government efforts. Generation X follows that statistic with roughly 61 percent support. Bridge millennials voiced 57.2 percent support. That compares to just 55 percent of millennials who say the same thing.
Overall, and looking more broadly, 55.5 percent of respondents said that all interest expenses should be waived for three months, 49 percent said that credit card payments should be waived for 49 percent and 46 percent said rent payments should be waived. We note that waiving these payments, when combined with direct funding efforts from the government, would help relieve operating pressures on these smaller firms (and personal financial pressures as well).
In the meantime, the administrative and logistical hurdles of getting funds to these companies, as part of the recently enacted $2.2 trillion stimulus plan, continue to be a challenge. The New York Times on Tuesday (April 7) noted that SMBs have experienced hours-long delays to speak with anyone on the phone, and the Small Business Administration’s website has crashed under the rush of applications and demand for loans.