At the end of 2020, the Cape Cod Commission and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce issued a third online business impact survey to Cape Cod business owners to understand the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Four hundred and fifty businesses and non-profits responded, representing every town and the major industries on Cape Cod.
The third economic impact survey was conducted in January 2021. There were 450 respondents, representing all 15 Cape Cod towns. The top three industries that responded – retail, restaurants and food service, and accommodations – are consistent with the top three industries by employment in the region.
Respondents to the survey reported year-over-year revenue change by quarter. Compared to 2019, over 85% of businesses reported losses in the second quarter; more than a third reported Q2 losses of more than 75%. During the summer, businesses rebounded somewhat, though nearly 30% of respondents still reported Q3 and Q4 losses of 50% or more.
By the time the third survey was issued, most survey respondents had opened, although only 38% were fully opened. Nearly 10% were closed due to the pandemic, though the majority of those closed do anticipate reopening. In spring 2020, 62% of respondents leveraged personal savings to mitigate the financial impacts of the pandemic. By the time the third survey was issued, that percent dropped to 40%. In the summer, half of all respondents took advantage of programs like the Payroll Protection Program to reduce those impacts.
Cape Cod faced unprecedented levels of unemployment due to COVID-19. Businesses and organizations closed down, reduced hours, and shifted operations online where possible, but some employees remained furloughed or laid off through the end of the year. Many more remained working on reduced schedules. Some businesses struggled with employees being unable or unwilling to return, citing concerns about health and safety, income, and childcare.
The most requested resource among respondents was support for communications, marketing, and social media, as businesses need to reach their customers online more effectively. The vast majority of the respondents weren’t yet sure how the pandemic may change their 2021 business plans, but many intend to increase their online operations.