HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Retail Merchants of Hawaii said it’s seeing a decline.
Tourist dollars have not returned, and local spending is taking a step back.
The state’s small business revenue is beginning to see a decline after a short-lived spending surge in June.
Carl Bonham, Director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization told the Hawaii House Special Committee on COVID-19 that revenue is declining for business owners.
“That’s consistent with an economy that was reopening, was spending off PPP loans, some rehiring going on,” Bonham said.
He said small businesses were hardest hit in April with more than 70% revenue loss.
In June the loss was 37% which was an improvement. However, in late July the revenue dropped to about 48%.
The President of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, Tina Yamaki, said these losses are also reflected in retail sales.
“The extra $600 from the federal government has gone away as well,” Yamaki said. “Some places that have opened are now closing again whether it’s to bankruptcy, or there are just no customers there.”
As the COVID-19 case count grows in Hawaii, state and community leaders are also concerned about the increasing need for unemployment benefits.
Congressman Ed Case said there is still no agreement on federal unemployment aid in Capitol Hill.
“I would think there would be some provision since both the Senate and the House want to continue unemployment,” Case said. “I would say, just guessing, it would be somewhere between $200 to $600 per month.”
Residents who cannot pay rent are protected from evictions for the rest of August. The same benefit is not extended to businesses, some landlords have postponed rent but that amount continues to accumulate.
“A lot of the focus is on the unemployed,” said Yamaki. “W get that. But I mean if business is not healthy, and we cannot open, there are no more jobs for people to come back to.”
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