Survey Highlights Post-Pandemic Challenges

Source: SC SBDC

The United States has experienced consistent and steady economic recovery following the COVID-19 recession that took place during the Spring of 2020. Yet 2022 brought with it a new set of challenges. To specifically identify issues faced by businesses in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SC SBDC) surveyed clients and partner organizations.

Of the 853 survey responses received, most businesses considered hiring & retaining qualified staff and reaching customers/growing sales their largest operational challenges. Ensuring the health/safety of customers or employees and complying with government regulations were considered the least challenging.

Selected Key Findings:

  • Among businesses attempting to hire over the past twelve months, nearly 85 percent reported hiring as a major or minor challenge. In response to these hiring challenges, most businesses report they have increased wages or monetary incentives. Others have had to increase the workload for existing employees or owners in the face of difficult hiring scenarios. Most have not changed hiring requirements or other non-wage compensation.
  • The primary financial challenge that small businesses report facing in 2022 is generating sufficient sales activity. Roughly 41.2 percent of survey respondents report weak sales as a major challenge, with wholesale and retail trade businesses most likely to be struggling in this area.
  • Approximately 77.4 percent of survey respondents report that inflation adversely impacted their business activity in 2022. This is especially true for businesses in finance & insurance, construction, and leisure & hospitality. In response to high inflation, most respondents have seen an increase in input or material costs and have experienced a decrease in the profitability of their business. Many have raised the prices of their products or services as a result.

Despite these challenges, most survey respondents are optimistic about 2023. Nearly 60 percent of all business respondents expect revenues to increase over the next twelve months, while about 43 percent expect to increase their employment levels.

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