Downtown Springfield Survey Shows Coronavirus Impact On Businesses

Apr 8, 2020

Credit flickr/pasa47

Bars are closed. Restaurants are prohibited from hosting dine-in patrons.  Many other businesses are considered non-essential and forced to shut down during the stay at home order. 

More than 40-percent of those downtown businesses responding said they have experienced a drop in revenue above 75-percent.

Downtown Springfield Inc. released the findings of the survey conducted a week ago. 

"I think it really drives home that the small businesses are really going to need this influx of government assistance sooner than later," said Lisa Clemmons Stott, DSI's Executive Director.  "So yes, the programs have been rolled out. Yes, there have been application periods. But the question now is, how soon will these businesses be able to access the actual money."

Most restaurant owners said they can last 1-2 months in the current situation.  "They're kind of the canary in the coal mine. And so you know, they can last one to two months under the current conditions, because their expenses are so high," Stott said.

Stott added fewer people are working downtown and there is a loss of tourists and convention attendees. While the survey results show at least 20-percent of the downtown workforce has been laid off, Stott said that number is too low.  The survey only asked if an establishment had reduced employees by 20 or more. She said that failed to take into account hotels, where in some cases 100+ workers were let go.  

"The Doubletree is closed through at least May 24. The Wyndham is not closed, but they let go of a lot of staff for the time being, because they just don't have the traffic. Across Sangamon County, hotels are at about 5-percent occupancy rate. So you can see that that's a huge disparity. We were trying to get to 60-percent occupancy this year across all of our hotels with convention traffic and tourism." ​

But some businesses are hanging on, with some help.

"We just want people to know that we that the downtown businesses really appreciate the private support that we're getting... the people who are, you know, ordering takeout, who are doing gift certificates, who are maybe ordering Easter baskets from a downtown shop this week. That is a huge help as we're trying to make payroll, and pay expenses, pay rent, everything this month, so we really, really appreciate that type of support."