Thursday, August 13, 2020
COVID Survey Shows Businesses Adapting but Uncertain
Hailey Coffee Company delivered more than 300 granola and YES BARS to The Hunger Coalition as part of a Breakfast for Everyone program during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The program instituted by owner Santos Serva concluded last week. PHOTO: Warren Benjamin
Wednesday, July 15, 2020



Businesses in the Wood River Valley are doing their best to adapt to a difficult economic environment created by the coronavirus pandemic.

But significant uncertainty exists among business owners as to what the future holds, says Harry Griffith, executive director of Sun Valley Economic Development.

“The loss of sales, the wearing of masks, the shift of traditional visitors to longer term potential residents and lack of workforce housing are just a few of the concerns shared with us,” Griffith said.

SVED surveyed more than 120 Wood River Valley businesses on behalf of the Blaine Recovery Committee to determine changes in the business environment created by the pandemic and the experience of reopening as Idaho began to relax its restrictions in late April.

The survey was done in partnership with Visit Sun Valley, The Chamber of Hailey and the Wood River Valley, the Fly Sun Valley Alliance, the Sun Valley Institute and other community organizations.

Over half of those who responded were in the retail/restaurant/lodging sector. Twenty-five percenter were in the professional services sector and the remaining 25 percent were in a variety of other industries.

The survey indicates the 67 percent of businesses are operating normally; 17 percent are operating with reduced space and 15 percent with reduced hours.

Sixty-one percent reported reduced sales this June over last, while 23 percent reported increased sales. Some pizza owners, for instance, say they have had more business since the pandemic started than they can handle.

About 50 percent expect a 15 percent or greater decline in revenue as the summer progresses; 12 percent expect revenue increases. The rest either expect this summer’s revenues to mirror last year’s or believe it’s too early to assess.

Longer term, 55 percent are concerned about reduced customer traffic; 41 percent, lost work opportunities; 40 percent about reductions in air service and 11 percent about long-term business viability.

Most respondents received support through the Small Business Administration’s CARES act, with 60 percent securing Payroll Protection Program loans and 14 percent securing Emergency Injury Disaster Loans. Nearly a quarter have not requested government support.

Going forward 40 percent would like to see tax relief; 26 percent, access to additional capital, and 20 percent, rent relief.

Sixty percent indicated destination marketing for this summer is important; 34 percent called it “critical.” Seventy-five percent supported marketing to Boise and Twin Falls drive markets, 66 percent to second homeowners, 61 percent to other regional drive way markets like Utah, Washington and California.

Fifty-five percent supported marketing to SUN air route markets.

Nearly all businesses—95 percent—are following some recommended safety and hygiene protocols. Of that 73 percent have employees wear masks; 71 percent have entry sanitization procedures and 48 percent are requiring customers be masked.



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