Supply Chain Disruptions and Staffing Shortages Threaten Small Business Recovery as Holiday Season Approaches

Date: November 04, 2021

The NFIB Research Center has released its new survey on the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. Supply chain disruptions are impacting a majority of small business owners with 48% reporting the disruptions have had a significant impact on their business and another 34% saying the disruptions have had a moderate impact. While this share of owners is about unchanged from September, the majority of owners (62%) say that the supply chain disruptions are worse now than they were three months ago. The vast majority (90%) also believe the disruptions will continue well into 2022. 

“Going into the busy holiday season, nearly half of small business owners who rely on holiday sales as a significant part of yearly revenue report that both the supply chain disruptions and the staffing shortage will impact their holiday sales,” said Holly Wade, Executive Director of NFIB’s Research Center. “Small employers continue to adjust their business operations and hiring practice to compensate for these issues, including for many dramatic price increases.” 

Other key findings from the survey include: 

  • Forty-eight percent of small employers report a significant or moderate staffing shortage, with slightly more than a quarter (26%) reporting a “significant” staffing shortage. About half of those with a staffing shortage reported a moderate or significant loss of sales opportunities because of unfilled positions. 
  • To attract additional job applicants, 79% of respondents have increased starting wages, 21% have increased paid time off and 16% have offered or enhanced hiring bonuses, 19% have offered or enhanced referral bonuses, and 21% have offered or enhanced health insurance benefits. 
  • Due to a lack of full-time workers, the vast majority (91%) of owners are working additional hours themselves. Sixty-seven percent of owners have offered more hours to part-timers instead, and 67% are now offering overtime. 
  • To further compensate for both supply chain disruptions and increased spending on compensation, 69% of owners have increased sales prices.  
  • The majority of respondents (64%) say they have almost recovered, recovered, or more-than recovered from pre-COVID levels. Fourteen percent said that their sales level remained at 50% or less of pre-COVID levels. 
  • However, most owners do not expect their local economy  to fully improve anytime soon. About a third (32%) say that they don’t expect full recovery until late 2022, and 27% don’t expect it until 2023 or beyond. Eighteen percent say that conditions have returned to normal in their area, and the remaining 24% expect it to happen soon. 
  • A quarter (25%) of small business owners are asking their employees if they’re vaccinated, and 35% are encouraging their employees to get vaccines. 

This publication marks NFIB’s 20th Small Business COVID-19 survey assessing the health crisis’ impact on small business operations, economic conditions, and utilization of the targeted small business loan programs. The full edition of the 20th survey can be read here. 

NFIB also wants to know how COVID-19 has impacted your small business. Let us know by filling out our brief survey here. 

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