The Greenwich Journal & Salem Press
The Greater Greenwich Chamber of Commerce and this newspaper worked together on a local business survey, a year after the initial shutdowns of the Covid pandemic, gauging where businesses stand now and what their hopes are for the near future. No doubt, the pandemic had an effect; however, most businesses proved flexible and are optimistic. The Chamber's Director, Kelly Eustis, designed the survey. "Being a year after our last survey, which was held at the beginning of lockdowns, the Chamber wanted to see where businesses stood and get an idea of what they would need moving forward in the recovery of such a tumultuous year," he said. "That insight will give the Chamber a starting point to provide more resources to our membership that is more attune to their needs rather than a more broad approach. For example, a business seminar on disaster planning or networking events more targeted to a specific industry." Twenty-nine area businesses took part in the 20-question survey. Overall, it looks like Greenwich area businesses were lean before the pandemic and flexibly handle a major downturn like Covid. Most businesses who responded to the survey only had 1-2 employees.
"The most significant, albeit not surprising, finding in my point of view is the loss of revenue -- 76% stated a decrease but 68% would not have done anything different had they known what they know now and 56% still do not have a business continuity plan," Eustis said. "On the other hand, only 20% had to temporarily lay off employees and half took federal assistance, so it goes to show adaptations were made to keep their business going, kept employees working, and financial aid likely had an impact on staying afloat." Perhaps surprisingly to many, businesses reported that they were optimistic for the future, feeling the worst days of the pandemic are behind them. "It's great to see that almost three quarters of surveyed businesses have expressed they are very or somewhat optimistic," Eustis added. "That enthusiasm, along with progress in vaccinations and reopening, will be a driving factor in our local economy this year. People know the importance of buying local, whether it be in retail, agriculture, and food service, and that helped many of our local businesses. Small businesses in rural communities depend on locals year-round so that continuing support is needed." Apparently, the pandemic had a deep effect this past year. Only 12% of businesses were able to hold events and 60% of businesses had to cut advertising, or drop advertising altogether. While 62% of businesses are "very optimistic" about their futures and 20% somewhat optimistic, 24% are very or somewhat concerned about the future. For our next issue, we interview local business leaders who took part in the survey. Suzanne Becker and Nicole Thomsen of Blooms Floral Design in Greenwich mostly service weddings, so took an obvious hit this past year. But now orders are picking up. "We expect everything to improve this coming year, as we adapt," Becker said. "Already, we're receiving a big uptick in inquiries. People are still getting married, and their plans are back on."