Business

Poll: 53% of Mass. small businesses make less than they did before pandemic

About a quarter said their revenue streams have increased.

More than half of Massachusetts small business owners make less than they did before the pandemic. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

A new survey shows that more than half of small businesses in Massachusetts are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

MassINC Polling Group surveyed 3,243 small business leaders (from organizations with fewer than 500 employees) in the state.

The results released late last week found that 53% of those surveyed said their organization is making less money than it did before the pandemic.

Among those leaders, 23% said their businesses were making between 1% and 25% less, 19% said they were down 25% to 49%, and 11% said their revenue stream was down to less than 50% of what it was before the pandemic.

On the other end of the spectrum, about a quarter of those surveyed said their revenue streams have risen, with the majority of those businesses saying they were making between 1% and 25% more than they were before COVID-19 hit.

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About a fifth of respondents said they are making approximately the same amount of money as they did before the pandemic.

MassINC Polling Group asked Massachusetts small businesses how much money they are making now compared to before the pandemic. – MassINC Polling Group.

The poll also found that most small businesses were able to receive significant relief funds from the government during the pandemic. Nearly three-quarters said they received at least $50,000 in relief funds, and only 14% said they received nothing.

Additionally, most companies said they were keeping up with debts. Only 18% of those surveyed had three months or more of past due payments.

The poll asked business leaders about their concerns for the future. The biggest was rising operation costs due to inflation, with 74% listing this as a major worry and only 5% saying this wasn’t a problem.

Similarly, 61% said they were concerned about wages keeping up with inflation.

Small businesses also said they are troubled about hiring, with 54% saying that finding qualified and reliable employees is difficult, and 46% citing hiring employees as a major concern.

Other problems caused by the pandemic still plague local companies. Supply chain issues were considered a major problem by 40% of respondents, and 43% said fewer customers coming into their businesses is a major concern.

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Many respondents also said they made significant changes to their businesses to deal with the pandemic. About a third said they’d eliminated products or services, a quarter said they began offering new products or services, and 22% said they were selling more online.

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The majority of those surveyed also said they’d made changes to deal with inflation, with 57% saying they’d raised prices and 30% saying they were considering doing so.

Most businesses also raised employee wages in response to inflation, with 54% saying they had done so already.

At the same time, small business leaders seem to have a somewhat optimistic outlook. When asked to rate conditions at their company from one to five, with one being very bad and five being very good, only 12% rated their conditions a two, and only 4% rated conditions a one.

Most rated their conditions a three or four, with 35% and 30% giving those ratings, respectively. Nearly a fifth of them rated conditions as a five.

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