In a sign of modest optimism, small business owners across the U.S. report a partial rebound in confidence this quarter, a small sign of progress after widespread, coronavirus-induced business closures and general disruption. A majority of small business owners (64%) now say they can continue operating under current conditions for more than a year, exactly double the number for whom that was true three months ago (32%).
The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Confidence Index rose to a score of 53 out of a possible 100, still nine points off its score of 61 in the first quarter of this year and its second-lowest score after hitting a record low last quarter.
Hiring expectations, revenue expectations, and owners’ assessments of the current business climate all have been pushed markedly off their standard trajectories, even after the recovery since last quarter. Just 36% of small business owners say current business conditions are good, significantly higher than it was last quarter still down substantially from 56% in the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, 23% say current business conditions are bad—again down from last quarter but still more than three times the number (7%) who said so at the start of the year.
Other key findings in this quarter's survey include:
- After a drastic decline last quarter, small businesses owners are less likely to report a decrease in demand in Q3, and some actually saw slight increases. Some 35% say demand for their business’s core products or services increased in the past three months, up from 17% last quarter. However, 41% still said demand for their business has decreased in the past three months.
- This fall in demand comes despite the fact that more than half (58%) of small business owners who are currently operating say their business has remained open throughout the pandemic.
- More than half (54%) say their business has increased and unforeseen costs associated with new coronavirus-related safety measures, while fewer (44%) say they do not have increased costs related to safety measures.
- A large majority of small business owners (69%), continue to say the coronavirus outbreak is likely to have permanent effects on the way they run their business—essentially unchanged from last quarter’s 71%.
Read more about our polling methodology here.
Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below: