After COVID-19, Many Businesses Still Struggle to Pay Rent  – Bankruptcy May Be the Answer

Do you remember where you were when the first round of coronavirus lockdowns was announced? Most Americans do.

We had been watching the international coverage of the virus’s spread for weeks and watching the way other nations were locking down, wondering if and when we would be impacted. Then, suddenly, we were watching our local businesses close their doors and donning masks to protect ourselves and our families.  

In early 2021, we are still struggling to contain and combat the coronavirus, but many communities and businesses have long-since adapted to new regulations and restrictions which have become a semi-permanent way of life. However, many more Americans – especially small business owners – are still desperately trying to get their feet under them again, financially.

More than any other time in modern history, Americans struggle to pay rent, and that includes those who have both home and business expenses to balance.

If you are one of these business owners wondering how you’re going to make ends meet, rest assured – you are not alone.  

An Unexpected Upend

Business owners know it is important to plan for all possibilities. In some seasons, the market slows down, while in others, business may boom for a few short weeks. Planning for the possibility of disaster is commonplace as well, since many companies operate in areas where natural disasters are the norm. These companies also undoubtedly have plans for sick employees, inclement weather, technical difficulties, and more. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was something that almost no one was truly prepared for – even as it ravaged the eastern side of the planet before making its way west. 

Even early reports during the pandemic foresaw the economic downturn that would result. In March of 2020, Forbes shared an article about the impact of the virus on business worldwide. But even seasoned business experts couldn’t have predicted the dramatic impact that the pandemic would have on both businesses and families. Even now, nearly a year after that article was first posted, hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of people in the United States struggle to pay rent – and worry about what the future will hold. 

Who is Most Impacted by the Financial Fallout from COVID-19?

While almost every industry has seen some impact from the lockdowns and health restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, some are being disproportionately affected.  

  • Just over 60% of restaurants, bars, and other eateries in the United States struggle to pay rent as the pandemic stretches onward.
  • Beauty salons are hovering just under 50%.
  • Gyms, med spas, massage parlors, and other leisure destinations are all seeing about a 40% rate of rent insecurity, while the travel and construction industries are fluctuating between 30-40% as the nation’s economy slowly attempts to rebuild and recover.

It has been a difficult twelve months for most in the United States, but people who own these types of businesses have seen record losses and face incredible challenges in getting back on their feet.  

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of these statistics is that they were compiled in December. This is the time of year when many industries – including retail, restaurants, travel, and more – see a major uptick in sales and profits. However, in the wake of the pandemic, businesses that usually enjoy booming success during the holidays have instead been unable to make payments such as rent and utilities. This has led to difficult decisions for many owners, including reducing staff hours and laying off employees as the calendar rolls into the thick of winter.  

  • These difficulties have disproportionately impacted minority business owners, with nearly 50% saying they currently struggle to pay rent.
  • Women-owned business closely follow, with around 35% saying they are having similar difficulties.
  • Businesses in areas where lockdowns and restrictions have been most stringent are also more dramatically impacted, with rates hovering between 40-50% in states like New York, while mostly-rural Missouri is much lower at 20%.
  • Still, even these lower rates are an almost unthinkable jump from the typical average of less than 5% percent overall – a norm which it may be very difficult for American business owners to return to.

Can Your Business Recover if You Struggle to Pay Rent?

There are options for business owners who are struggling to pay rent.  

For some, this has involved restructuring their business model, their payroll, and conserving resources by altering their service schedules and abbreviating their open hours.  For others, this will involve bankruptcy. Before you panic, remember: Bankruptcy doesn’t have to mean hanging up your keys to the busines you own. In fact, bankruptcy can be a great way to reorganize and tackle your debt to keep your doors open and your lights on. 

When you can’t pay your rent, utilities, and other costs, it can seriously impact your business’s everyday operations. How can you serve your consumers if you’re worried about having your electricity or water cut off? Thankfully, that’s one of the biggest benefits of bankruptcy. A chapter 11 bankruptcy, for example, provides an automatic stay of debts. This means that the creditors providing your utilities, rental property, and more will be unable to contact you in search of repayment – and you’ll be able to keep your doors open and employees working while you get a repayment plan sorted out.  

Bankruptcy doesn’t just help you keep your business afloat now. It can also increase your company’s ability to obtain loans and other financial assistance later. It can be a blueprint to a better future for those struggling now. Likewise, if you choose to sell your business, being able to do so free of liens and other restrictions can help you get out from under lingering complications faster – and back on the right track to success faster, as well! 

If you’re interested in learning more about business bankruptcy in Florida, contact the experienced staff at the Van Horn Law Group. They can guide you through your various options and counsel you on which ones might be best for you. Whether you choose bankruptcy or something else, the staff at Van Horn can assist you through every step of the process.  

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Published by
Chad Van Horn

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