An economic survey in Victoria and other Golden Crescent counties shows that 40% of area businesses have closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The survey is meant to measure the early economic toll of the pandemic. Key findings in the survey, which was conducted over the week of March 23 to 27 and involved 88 businesses, was compiled by Jim Lee of the South Texas Economic Development Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The survey also found that:

  • 9% of businesses have laid off staff and 6% have terminated staff.
  • Slightly more than 20% of the local workforce is working remotely.
  • The typical affected business has experienced a revenue loss of 40%.
  • 27% of business owners anticipate a permanent reduction in their workforce by an average of about 36% over the next three months.
  • Over the next six months, 17% of business owners anticipate to reduce their workforce by an average of 13%.

“It just tells us that the business community is stressed,” said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., which coordinated the survey in conjunction with a consortium of local economic development organizations and chambers of commerce across South Texas. “Financing and consumer confidence is some of their biggest concerns for how they recover.”

The survey reports financing to be a top concern for two out of three respondents, followed by the crisis’ impact on consumers and the national and global economy.

Fowler said he expects the business declines reflected in the survey, which occurred after restaurant closures but before a statewide closures of all but essential businesses, to intensify in the coming weeks.

“It’s a snapshot in time,” he said. “As we get more weeks into this situation, I think the numbers on this will increase.”

Fowler said the current plan is to conduct another survey in the weeks to come.

By that time, the business environment may have changed substantially.

According to the survey, the typical Crossroads business can remain open for four weeks at current rates of revenue loss.

Fowler said the results show that the economic situation resulting from the spread of COVID-19 is much worse than the toll taken by Hurricane Harvey, which had a definitive end.

“We’re getting hit with a double storm so to speak,” he said. “It will be a much longer time before the economic recovery can occur.”

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Morgan O'Hanlon is the business and agriculture reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6328, or on Twitter @mcohanlon.

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Morgan covers business for the Victoria Advocate. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas and received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

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