Supporting small business through the COVID-19 recovery

According to a recent survey, Henry County shoppers want to get back to normal, while keeping some of the COVID-19 practices in place.

More than 400 people responded to an online survey co-sponsored by Henry Community Health, New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC), New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and New Castle Main Street.

The survey was designed to support small Henry County small businesses as they begin to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Specifically, this survey was designed to help companies understand how consumers will engage with them through the phases of reopening.

Many participants noted that they would enjoy seeing several safety precautions still being put in action. Other participants stated, “Let’s just get back to normal.”

Most people who responded to the survey (93 percent) like having curbside pickup option at restaurants. Three out of four shoppers (75.7 percent) want brick-and-mortar shops to fully reopen so they don’t have to spend so much shopping online.

About half of those surveyed (53.1 percent) said they would shop online through local retailers if the service was available.

As of the time of the survey, 50 percent of consumers had yet to dine in local restaurants but were looking forward to dining out within a month or two.

Two-thirds of consumers (67 percent of those who responded) feel more comfortable if employees at Henry County restaurants and businesses continued to wear face masks after reopening.

The survey also found that 71.1 percent of respondents have had a telehealth visit and would like to do more of them.

“One fact is very clear as we review the answers from the community: life will definitely be different as we continue to navigate the phases of reopening,” said EDC President Corey Murphy. “The health of our employees, customers and community will need to be a high priority until COVID-19 treatments and vaccinations are widely available.”

The impact of these changes will be especially challenging to small businesses who lack an e-commerce platform. Online shopping continues to rise and represents a critical component to small business survivability during a pandemic.

However, a recent study by Main Street America revealed that nearly 63 percent of small businesses lack e-commerce sales. New Castle Main Street, New Castle-Henry County EDC, New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and East Central Indiana SBDC are exploring options to help area businesses strengthen their online presence.

“There will be many changes over time as America’s small businesses deal with the challenges of COVID-19,” said Carrie Barrett, Executive Director of New Castle Main Street. “As such, our organizations plan to follow up with small business owners who expressed interest in working on solutions for long-term growth and success.”

For more information about support for area businesses, visit www.growinhenry.com.

– Story by Courier Times Staff Report of The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.TheCourierTimes.com.

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