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Data released on Tuesday, showed the Small Business Optimism Index tumbled to 8.1 points in March. Analysts at Wells Fargo, point out small business confidence has tumbled, as business owners ponder when their businesses will reopen and when customers will return.

Key Quotes: 

“The drop in confidence reported in March was the largest in the survey’s history, as nine of the 10 components fell and the Uncertainty Index rose 12 points.”

“Expectations of higher real sales over the next six months declined 31 points to -12%, the largest decline on record, while expectations of better overall business conditions in the next six months fell 17 points to 5%.”

“Employment and small business confidence should fall much more in April. The NFIB also conducted a special COVID-19 survey on March 30, which found that 92% of small business owners reported a negative impact from the virus, up from 76% 10 days earlier and just 23% 20 days earlier.”

“Among the negatively affected firms, 80% reported lower sales, 31% reported supply chain disruptions and 23% were worried about their employees’ physical health. The fundamental issue for many firms is solvency—how long can they stay afloat given drastically lower sales? Half of small businesses reported they can survive for no more than two months under current conditions, with another third saying they could last three to six months.”

“Small businesses are bearing a disproportionate part of the burden from stay-at-home orders, and providing timely relief is critical to heading off a surge of business failures that would make the subsequent economic recovery much more difficult.”