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Report: S.C. small business recovery outpacing national average

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A new survey of more than 35,000 small- and medium-sized business owners worldwide found that closures, declining sales and other effects from the COVID-19 pandemic persist, but that South Carolina is recovering faster than the national average.

Facebook’s Global State of Small Business Report, which surveyed 27 countries and territories in February 2021, found that 43% of S.C. businesses reported lower sales that month, eight points below the U.S. average. Additionally, 44% of women-owned businesses in the state reported lower sales, 10 points below the national average.

As of February 2021, the survey found that 75% of S.C. businesses, 78% of women-owned businesses, and 73% of minority-owned businesses in the state were operational. The survey found that while 19% of operating small businesses had reduced employment as a result of COVID-19, 73% of S.C. business owners were confident in their ability to remain open for at least six months if current conditions continue.

Worldwide, slightly more than half of business owners expressed similar confidence.

State businesses do expect challenges ahead, the survey found, with 24% anticipating cash flow issues and 23% bracing for a drop in demand or customers. Both numbers were on par with U.S. averages. S.C. businesses were also among the likeliest not to rehire employees laid off or furloughed during the pandemic at 65%.

Data collection was performed in partnership with the Small Business Roundtable, with 326 eligible S.C. respondents participating.

Overall, the report found that 55% of small- to medium-sized businesses worldwide and 51% in the U.S. reported a decline in sales in January 2021. Globally, 30% of businesses had reduced their workforces, while 27% of U.S. businesses had done so. Hotels, restaurants and cafes were the hardest-hit, with 20% closing in the U.S. and 25% worldwide.

Minority-led businesses were also harder-hit, with more than half of U.S. Black, Asian-American and Hispanic businesses reporting a drop in sales compared to previous years, the report found.

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