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Small Business Owners More Likely to Forgo Storefront After Pandemic, Survey Suggests

  • As small businesses turn to e-commerce to endure the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey suggests that some may give up their physical location
  • Sixty-one percent of businesses with a physical location have experienced a decline in revenues during the pandemic, while about half of those with online stores have seen a revenue boost
  • Only one in five respondents said they plan to reopen a physical location within a year

During the COVID-19 pandemic, countless small businesses have been forced to develop new strategies, find different ways to offer their services, or otherwise adapt to the changing world in order to survive. A new survey by the website and marketing solutions provider Bluehost suggests that many small business owners may opt to make a more permanent transition to digital services rather than reopen a physical location.

The survey, fielded in August, polled 500 small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Sixty-nine percent considered it important to enhance their online presence during the pandemic, and common efforts included redesigning a website, improving their social media, or ramping up digital marketing efforts.

Ninety-two percent thought it was important that they be able to sell their products online, and 49 percent of those with online stores said they saw a boost in revenue. Conversely, 61 percent of respondents with brick and mortar stores saw their revenues decrease during the pandemic. At the same time, about one-quarter of respondents thought they lacked the knowledge to manage an online store, reporting deficiencies in areas such as search engine optimization, finding target audiences, and staying competitive with other businesses offering e-commerce.

Three-quarters of respondents said they expect their online sales to increase in 2021. Forty-eight percent said they saw no need to have a physical store for their business, and just one in five said they were planning to reopen a physical location for their business within the next year.

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