Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Small Business News Highlights:
- Lawmakers report progress in stimulus negotiations
- U.S. retailers report ongoing decline in sales; small firms feeling pinch as large companies fail to pay
- Ongoing disagreements about who should receive new COVID vaccine first
Lawmakers report progress in stimulus negotiations
“The stimulus package is encouraging. It looks like it’s very, very close.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have indicated that they are nearing agreement on a $900 billion aid package that could be passed as early as the end of this week.
The package is set to include aid for struggling small businesses and the unemployed as well as direct cash payments to many people below a certain income threshold.
The legislation comes on the heels of a report that nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the start of the pandemic, a problem further exacerbated the upcoming end of federal emergency aid programs passed earlier this year.
Liability protections for businesses continue to be a sticking point in the negotiations, however, with GOP lawmakers pressing for legislation to shield employers from lawsuits related to COVID outbreaks in the workplace.
The aid legislation comes just in the nick of time, as businesses contend with a 1.1% drop in retail sales in November, representing the biggest drop in the past 7 months.
U.S. retailers report ongoing decline in sales; small firms feeling pinch as large companies fail to pay
“It’s the trickle-down effect. I’m writing off $6,500 of the money they owed us.”
The drop in sales may be why large companies are failing to pay their bills on time, a trend reported by a growing number of small business owners. Many SBOs note that large firms are withholding payment due to their own financial struggles, making it doubly difficult for smaller companies to survive. In fact, small business payment industry experts estimate that as many as 20% of small businesses have seen delays in payments.
The inability to collect payment for services already rendered is just one of the reasons that 62% of small business owners believe that the worst is still to come for small businesses in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A new poll found that only 40% of small business heads believe that they can continue to operate under current conditions.
Nearly three-quarters of SBOs report that they’re still waiting for assistance from the federal government to survive and many are planning on cutting staff hours in the coming months in an effort to avoid shutting down altogether.
Ongoing disagreements about who should receive new COVID vaccine first
“We’re hopeful that local health officials start jumping on this quicker rather than later so that there’s some guidance and some better sense of how to be efficient with the essential workforce.”
Shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were delivered to states this week and news outlets showed frontline healthcare workers getting jabbed with the historic shot. As the FDA prepares to release its (most-likely) approval on a vaccine from Moderna, employers, workers, and public health officials are scrambling to determine who should qualify for the limited number of available doses.
United States companies view a vaccinated workforce as a key part of getting back to business as usual. Yet the federal government has provided little guidance about who is “essential,” leaving states to figure it out for themselves.
The Latest from Workest
With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, the joy of paid holidays is on most employees’ minds. If you’re curious how many employers are planning for next year, check out Cinnamon Janzer’s report on the most common paid holidays to give employees in 2021.
There might not be any watercooler to congregate around currently, but that doesn’t mean that workers won’t find ways to air their political opinions heading into the next president’s term. Here’s a guide to keeping things civil in the post-election workplace by Riia O’Donnell.
Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:
- FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service are all warning Americans to expect delayed deliveries of holiday gifts this year. According to the carriers, the combination of bad weather and COVID-19 vaccine logistics mean that people should act fast if they want packages to arrive on time.
- Looking to raise brand awareness? Many businesses have switched to handing out branded swag related to COVID prevention and working from home.
- Finally, we applaud your efforts to recognize your employees’ hard work this holiday season, but take a minute to make sure that you don’t wind up on this list of horrifying presents bosses give their employees.