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32% of Indiana small business owners say things won’t be back to normal until 2022

Almost a third of small business owners in the state of Indiana who were recently surveyed said they don’t expect business to be back to normal until 2022, and 11% said they don’t expect it to return to normal in 2023, almost two years from now.

The survey, by the National Federations of Independent Business, was conducted March 11-16 and included responses from a random sample of 526 Indiana small business owners.

It was the 16th in a series of surveys the NFIB has done since March 2020, and taken together, the results present more evidence of the profound disruption of normal life in the state of Indiana over the last year and point to the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers.

But the most recent results also show some improvement in the economic outlook.

In December, NFIB State Director Barbara Quandt had testified before the Indiana General Assembly, telling legislators that 25% of businesses surveyed said they would close their doors forever if economic conditions did not improve over the next six months.

In the most recent survey, that number has been cut in half. Now only 13% of small business owners surveyed say they’ll have to close if things don’t improve in the next six months – still a significant number, but a big improvement in just four months.

This month’s survey looked at the outlook for business, and also revenue levels, attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine, and at how many small businesses in the state were helped by the PPP program, the federal program that gave businesses generous loans that could be forgiven if they kept employees on the payroll during the pandemic.

On revenue, the survey showed 22% of small businesses are selling half what they were a year ago or less, with another 21% of small businesses saying their sales are between 51% and 75 percent of what they were prior to the pandemic. Thirty-five percent of business owners said they were back or almost back to pre-pandemic sales, and 23% said their sales are higher now than they were before the pandemic.

The revenue question reveals that in tumultuous times, some businesses will still thrive, or even boom, while others falter.

Jeff Mease owns Pizza X in Bloomington.

“Pizza delivery had been great…it’s stronger than ever,” he said this week.

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