Holiday season

Brooklyn Small Businesses Hit Hard by Omicron This Holiday Season

The increase in COVID-19 cases has taken its toll on Brooklyn’s small business community, with around 20% of local businesses having to shut down for some time during the holiday season and 59% having had employees who have called sick in the past three weeks, a new poll reveals.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce surveyed 109 small businesses in the borough between Dec. 23-28 to find out the effects of the current wave of COVID-19 in the city, which has been blamed on the highly contagious variant of Omicron .

Business owners reported a 77% reduction in holiday sales and a 46% decline in indoor activities, including restaurants and stores. This led 77% of businesses to report declining vacation revenue, while 13% said their revenue had increased.

In the survey, a bar and tavern owner in East Williamsburg said that although it was the company’s December 1 with meals inside, “sales fell almost 60% on a moving average. over 7 days “.

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Randy Peers said Omicron took everyone by surprise and the record for small businesses over the holiday season has been staggering.

“Just when many of our small businesses were hoping to make up for the losses suffered throughout the pandemic, they now face another uncertain winter as we head into 2022,” he said.

It wasn’t just the challenges posed by COVID-19 closures and the fear faced by business owners and staff, with 31% of those polled saying they had experienced negative reactions from customers following the application of mask or vaccination requirements. And, they added, during the holiday period, 73% had received complaints from customers.

Despite this, 94% expressed support for the state’s mask mandate and 77% said they needed masks in store, while 59% verify vaccination status, according to the survey.

The owner of a health and wellness center in Park Slope said the biggest difficulty they faced right now was that they had a staff member who had requested a religious exemption from the vaccine “and I’m afraid if customers ask the staff member there may be a reaction about someone having an exemption.

For one respondent, who owns food and beverage businesses in eastern New York City and in Bed-Stuy, stressing staff by having to enforce the mask rule was one of the big challenges facing l business was facing.

Companies that participated in the survey reported that over 90% of staff were vaccinated and over 50% were tested regularly. Despite this, 53% of owners and staff tested positive for COVID-19 before the holidays, according to the survey.

Lorraine Lowe, director of membership at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber’s investigations have been an important information lifeline for the Brooklyn small business community.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have continuously surveyed our businesses so that we can tell the story of how COVID has continued to impact our local economy. “

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