A second COVID-19 surge will only slow, not stop, the economic recovery that is now under way, with most states eager to avoid the total lockdowns that caused U.S. GDP to contract by an estimated 34% in the second quarter. This, according to Kiplinger. But, the delay in getting back to normal will be fatal for many small firms. Most have little in the way of reserves, making it hard to maintain payroll, even with stopgap measures such as the federal Paycheck Protection Program. And, for many PPP loan recipients, those funds have already or will soon run out.
Among the most vulnerable small businesses are Restaurants. While sales at quick-serve and fast-casual restaurants have nearly returned to normal, those at establishments with full-service dining are only 56% of pre-COVID levels. Many reopened restaurants are currently operating at reduced capacity to maintain social distancing with only 60% are now taking inside dining reservations. Thousands of others have been forced to close their doors permanently. The industry is lobbying Congress for economic relief.
One proposal with bipartisan backing would create a $120 billion “Restaurant Revitalization Fund,” overseen by the Treasury Dept., to support independent restaurants and bars. As Congress debates yet another trillion-dollar COVID-19 aid bill. The expanded federal unemployment benefits ended on July 31st and have not been fully returned. This extra $600 per week was a crucial source of income for the millions of Americans who remain unemployed and has helped bolster consumer spending. In August, the deadline to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans ended. Over $130 billion in PPP funding was still in play for eligible small businesses. The end of this month, September 30th, will mark the last day of payroll support for major U.S. airlines, many of whom have already indicated they will be forced to lay off thousands of employees on October 1st. The travel industry is still reeling heavily from the pandemic. Also, September 30th is the last day of a freeze on federal student loan payments. $42 billion in payments has been deferred, affecting about 92% of student borrowers. When this kicks back in, all of those borrowers will be directly affected.
Expect a recent surge in shipping rates to recede in the coming months. Shipping rates jumped in June as retailers and manufacturers moved to replenish inventories after resuming operations. Those for ocean shipping from China to California have soared 67%. Railroads carrying intermodal freight from Los Angeles have raised rates to Chicago by 72%. Plus, trucking rates coming from both the West and Southwest are much higher than normal.
Still, bottlenecks pushing up spot rates will ease once inventories are restocked. Contract shipping rates will likely remain sluggish. Truck utilization is low and won’t return to normal until late next year. With business now hard to come by, some small trucking firms could fail after their initial PPP loans are used up, especially those serving businesses that will be slow to recover, such as restaurants. Fewer shipments of oil, coal and other commodities are depressing some rail rates.
Among the businesses set to benefit from COVID-19 are homebuilders. With the pandemic forcing Americans to stay at home more, many will soon be in the market for a bigger home with nicer accommodations. The editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance like these home builder stocks, all expected to perform well going forward, despite pandemic-related setbacks: NVR, which builds in hot pockets of the mid-Atlantic, South and Midwest. Meritage Homes and Taylor Morrison, two Ariz.-based home builders. TRI Pointe Group, which builds mostly in thriving Western markets. And LGI Homes, active in many regions, including the South and Northwest. IShares U.S. Home Construction is the best of the home builder ETFs… exchange-traded funds. It includes shares of related companies, such as Home Depot.
Parker Associates is involved with ensuring businesses and projects are as successful as possible. With our proven approach backed by a combined nearly 100 years of experience in our executive team, we have a track record of success that is unparalleled in the industry. It’s what we do. If you need assistance with your business in any way, contact Parker Associates and PTC Computer Solutions. We are ready to help.
David WB Parker is a principal of Parker Associates of Jacksonville, Florida, marketing consultants to the real estate industry; President of PTC Computer Solutions, IT Specialist, and an active real estate sales professional with Barclay’s Real Estate Group based in Jacksonville, FL. He is also a principal partner of the REMA Team of professionals. He can be reached at 904-607-8763 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.