Back in March, many of us hoped that the pandemic would only be a problem for a few months.  It’s clear now that most of 2020 will be impacted by COVID-19, and perhaps even the first half of 2021.  And while there are some stores doing just fine during this challenging time, most of us are struggling with a severe decline in sales. Those dependent on the 4th quarter for profitability are going to be particularly hard hit.

This would be a good time to look at how your store can survive this year financially. Whatever budgeting you had set up for a normal year will probably not serve you well given the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in.

The first place to give consideration is any debt that your business is carrying.  Talk with your banker to see if there is a plan that can be worked out that will delay payments you are unable to make.  Your store is not alone in struggling at this time, and lending institutions realize that they are more likely to recoup their money if you stay in business.

If you are carrying expensive credit card debt, see if your bank can help you pay off your credit cards with a less expensive loan.  Try not to use credit cards for the rest of the year if you don’t think you will be able to pay the bill in full on time.

Government loan and grant programs are not necessarily completely tapped out. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or the SBDC to find out whether there are funds available to help you. There may be something specifically set up for your community.

If you need to come up with cash to get through the rest of the year, consider liquidating inventory you won’t need in the next six months.  Offering your customers a deal (for example 25% off, or buy one/get one free) on excess merchandise will make them happy, and free up dollars you can use to pay your bills.

Ask your landlord for rent relief if you are struggling.  Just as banks want to see you survive, building owners would rather not be faced with a vacancy.  You might be able to get a few months free rent, or a reduction in the amount you pay.

If you feel the need to reduce your staffing, be up front with your employees so they know what to expect.  We have lost two valued staff members who needed to get full time jobs because of their reduced hours, but we understand that they need to do what is best for them and their families.

Some businesses have turned to their customers for help, setting up a GoFundMe account. This is more likely to be effective if your business is involved in the community and has a lot of public support.  You can also look into micro loan programs such as KIVA, however keep in mind that these loans must eventually be paid back.

I hope that you are able to weather this storm, and come back stronger than ever next year!

Happy Retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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