Fall Economic Outlook Survey

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Amid Pandemic, Small Business Owners respond With Meaningful Transformation; Remain Resilient

Amid this year’s historic coronavirus pandemic, businesses are adapting by making major changes to their operations including increased use of technology, according to the latest PNC semi-annual survey of small and mid-size business owners and executives, which concluded Sept. 8.

Key survey findings:

Change Is In The Air: Eight in 10 (79%) reported that they have made adaptations to their business in response to COVID-19, including safety changes (69%) in the form of new policies and procedures (62%) or physical modifications (57%), while others have adopted work from home policies (33%).

Tech Talk: Half (51%) of businesses report increased use of technology since the outbreak began. A third (33%) have increased technology to improve workforce productivity. Nearly three in 10 (29%) have added or increased the use of electronic or touchless payment systems, electronic /website-enabled sales (23%).

PPP a Much Needed Lifeline: Nearly all who applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan consider the funding important (97%), and nearly seven in 10 say it is extremely important. Of those who applied, nearly 90% were approved. A majority (55%) say additional government stimulus funding is important for their business, with a third (32%) indicating it is extremely important.

Economic Hopes Dim: Business leader reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic conditions caused the steepest six-month decline in optimism in the 17-year history of the survey, dropping by half from Spring 2020, to just 21% reporting optimism about the national economy. While the drop is one of the sharpest in survey history, optimism remains higher than it was during the Great Recession between 2008 and 2013, when it was in the single digits.


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