For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a majority of businesses in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties were open without restrictions in June, according to the latest survey by the Central Coast Coalition of Chambers.
The coalition has been surveying business owners every other month since shortly after the pandemic began. The latest survey was conducted in late June and early July, after the state’s reopening and before the recent increase in cases.
In the new survey, 45% of business owners said were optimistic about the future and think the economy will rebound within two to three months. When the survey started, in May 2020, only 17% felt optimistic.
In the latest survey, 65% of respondents said business conditions were either good or excellent, a 46-point increase from May 2020.
In May of 2020, the top concerns for businesses were the pandemic’s negative impact on jobs and business, not knowing how long the situation would last, and the effect on the U.S. economy. The sentiment in June and July was similar; the top three concerns were overall public health, the impact on jobs and businesses, and the state of the local economy.
Nearly half of respondents — 46% — said they are still working remotely in some form, down slightly from April, when 52% said they were working from home.
Businesses also reported staffing shortages. In June and July, 82% of business owners said they were having trouble finding qualified candidates.