Facebook has this week published the latest update in its State of Small Business Report, which looks at the impact of COVID-19, and the global lockdowns to limit its spread, on SMBs in various regions.
The data, which Facebook has been tracking since July, incorporates responses from more than 30,000 small business owners across 50 countries, and highlights the key concerns and challenges they face as each seeks to maintain operations. And the insight provided is important for virtually every organization, as the flow-on effects will relate to spending in almost all aspects, and will lead to far-reaching economic shifts.
You can download the full, Global State of Small Business Wave III update here, but here's a look at some of the key notes and charts.
First off, Facebook notes that more businesses are re-opening, with closure rates declining in almost all regions.
Though the impacts are relative - some sectors are seeing renewed impacts, with 'Information and Communication' businesses reporting a jump in closures in this latest update.
That likely points to the cumulative, ongoing impacts as businesses gradually assess the financial impacts of the crisis, and rationalize accordingly.
Overall sales are also down across the board, though digital-enabled businesses have been able to lessen the impact.
That's important to note for digital marketers - according to the report:
- 48% of consumers surveyed reported an increase in online spending since the outbreak of COVID-19, and 40% of respondents said they increased their use of social media and online messaging for product and business recommendations.
- Nearly two-thirds of shoppers surveyed who substituted one of their frequented businesses for a new one reported using digital tools to discover these new businesses.
An active digital presence can have significant benefits, and that also looks set to remain true beyond the pandemic, with the rise of eCommerce accelerated by five years due to the shutdowns, according to one report.
Sales numbers by sector are also down in general, with varying results in each niche.
Overall, the data shows that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are not going to be felt immediately, they're cumulative, and will show through more over time. Businesses that were not seeing as much impact in the last report are seeing more now, even as more are able to open, because the relative growth or decline may not be evident in immediate figures.
That underlines the ongoing challenges SMBs face, which, again, will impact all businesses in some form. Less spending with SMBs means less spending by SMBs, and with smaller operators dominating the market, that means that we're all affected over time.
Hopefully, we're moving closer to a time when we are able to safety re-open our economies, in order to mitigate these losses, but the data shows that we still have a long way to go, and that the flow-on effects will continue to trickle down until we reach that next stage.
There's a heap more data in Facebook's full Global State of Small Business Report, which you can download here.