South Carolina small business owners prepare for slow times due to coronavirus concerns

Updated: Mar. 18, 2020 at 8:11 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted day to day activities for many in South Carolina.

Some people may not be able to eat at their favorite restaurants and others might hold off on getting a haircut. Some economists believe this could slow economic growth in the country and here in South Carolina.

The doors are still open at small businesses like Toliver's Barbershop in Columbia. Owner Michael Toliver said, "As long as customers are coming through the door, we're going to be in here working."

Toliver said over the weekend they've had clients cancel appointments because of coronavirus concerns. He said he doesn't expect business to drop off too much for now.

Toliver said he's more worried about customers and clients possibly losing their jobs and not spending money to get haircuts on a regular basis.

"What we bring in is dictated off of customers coming to patronize us," Toliver continued, "If we don't make money then we can't put food on the table, then we can put clothes on our backs and it gets difficult."

Research economist Joseph Von Nessen at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina said that businesses that rely on ‘in-person’ interactions could lay off 20% of their employees because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Von Nessen said, "Basically many parts of the American economy are now on pause. That's something we haven't seen in recent times."

Restaurants are already seeing an impact. Compton's Kitchen in West Columbia said business was very slow Wednesday. All of this after the Governor banned dine-in services at restaurants for the time being.

Owner Martha Cooke said, "Everyone is going to take a hit during this - we're just trying to do the best we can."

The restaurant has had to adjust to the dine-in ban and they are now offering delivery to their customers within a five-mile radius. Cooke said, “I just feel responsible to my employees to give this our best shot.”

Von Nessen said as soon as the coronavirus is contained, people will want to spend money at barbershops and restaurants like they were before. "We don't know when it's going to be but because of the pent up demand that is being created now that is going to help us get back on track."

Von Nessen also believes unemployment claims will double in South Carolina over the coming weeks.

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