Facebook Publishes New Insights into the Impacts of COVID-19 on SMBs

Facebook has released the latest iteration of its State of Small Business Report, which looks at how COVID-19, and the related lockdown measures, are impacting SMBs around the world.

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 each faces as they seek to maintain operations. The insight here is valuable for virtually every organization, as the flow-on effects from SMBs will relate to spending in all aspects of the economy, and will influence market spend and focus moving forward.

You can download the full, Global State of Small Business report here, but in this post, we’ll look at some of the key data points and charts.

First off, on sales volume and performance – the data shows that all sectors are still seeing lower sales numbers than they were in 2019, with 52% of SMBs also reporting lower sales in the last 30 days compared to last year.

That underlines the ongoing pressure on SMBs, with many struggling to get by, with the hopes of a vaccine roll-out, and a return to relative normalcy, on the horizon.

Lower sales performance has pushed SMBs to look for alternate platforms to meet their customers, with a 60% increase in the share of purchases made by consumers through digital channels in the period.

As you can see in the first segment, the proportion of businesses making no sales through digital channels fell from 35% to 13%.

That shift has lead to new shopping behaviors, which will likely hold after the pandemic period, which is an important consideration for all brands to keep in mind. If you’re not implementing digital sales tools, you’ll likely miss out on a large section of your audience – even when they can return to regular shopping processes.

The report also highlights ongoing supply issues, with supply chains disrupted by various COVID-19 mitigation measures.

So it’s not just getting people in-store or to your website, it’s also sourcing products that are hampering SMBs. The numbers underline the broad-reaching scope of the impacts and the effect on the global economy.

The report also looks at how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority communities.

Indeed, Facebook says that 70% of small businesses in minority communities have reported lower sales, compared to 41% in non-minority communities, while 36% of small businesses in minority communities reported being closed (versus 22%).

That’s been part of the impetus behind Facebook, and other platforms, providing more support for Black creators and businesses. COVID-19 has hit these communities particularly hard, and it’s important that we all do what we can to support minority groups to help keep them afloat throughout the situation.

Facebook’s report also provides a more specific analysis on how the pandemic has impacted business leaders of each gender, with domestic duties having more impact on female workers.

87% of female business leaders have reported domestic responsibilities impacting their work, versus 72% of male business leaders. That’s yet another consideration in the wider, and ongoing impacts of the pandemic – which, hopefully, we’re now getting closer to moving on from.

But it will take time, the time many SMBs simply don’t have. As such, it’s important to keep your local businesses in your thoughts and to consider where you’re shopping, and how you can provide support where possible.

There’s a heap more info in the full, 50-page report, including an in-depth analysis of various impacts and sectors. Essential reading for those looking to understand the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.