The mantra "We're all in this together," oft-repeated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, does not apply to businesses. In fact, the pandemic and resulting lockdowns had the complete opposite impact on some businesses compared to others. Large retailers like Walmart, Target, Costco and Amazon have seen massive growth in sales since shutdown orders began last spring. At the same time, small businesses without the scope, reach, finances or influence of the big names have been wiped out.
The uneven effects of the pandemic on large and small businesses can largely be attributed to the uneven application of coronavirus restrictions. "Some of these larger retailers were deemed essential--which is a pretty vague term," says Joel Griffith, research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. "While a lot of smaller stores that sold identical merchandise were deemed non-essential, and they were forced to close."
Griffith tells KTRH he has seen the effects first-hand. "I went to Manhattan recently, and you see some streets where half of these little businesses are closed, not just temporarily for COVID, but they've actually gone out of business," he says. "That's the amount of destruction that has been wreaked."
Not surprisingly, the impact of lockdowns is not only worse on small businesses, but also in states that have implemented strict lockdowns, most of them led by Democrats. "This outflow of people that you've seen over decades moving from left-leaning state with so-called progressive policies to red states, I predict we're going to see an acceleration of that," says Griffith.
With many of those same states now implementing new shutdowns, Griffith believes there is only one way to end this cycle and level the playing field for all businesses again. "Reopen society, allow people to go back to work and school and play," he says. "And guess what, you'll see businesses of all sizes succeed once again in that environment."