Are local businesses in Florida recovering from COVID-19?

The Womply Research team has been analyzing revenue trends at millions of small, local businesses across the country. We’re trying to determine the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local businesses like restaurants, retail shops, lodging places, supermarkets, entertainment venues, and more.

In this report, we will be taking a close look at Florida, which has been the target of frequent criticism due to high-profile decisions by state leadership such as deferring beach closings to local governments during Spring Break.

As a result, Florida has gained a reputation as a state with a more “lax” approach to instituting restrictions to combat the pandemic, and opening the state back up again. So we wanted to dive deep into our data and see how much Florida businesses saw sales drop during the height of the pandemic, and whether the state is experiencing an early “bounce back” in consumer spending at local businesses as things begin to reopen

About this report: The charts below automatically update every day. They show a daily view of average 2020 revenue for Florida businesses in a particular category compared to the closest day of the week in 2019. 

Check back regularly to see how the local business economy in Florida is faring. 

How many Florida businesses have stopped transacting entirely?

First, we wanted to see what percentage of different types of Florida businesses stopped transacting entirely during the coronavirus outbreak, and when they were able to open back up again.

Here’s what we did in order to learn how many businesses have closed due to the coronavirus:

  1. We analyzed credit card transaction data at businesses who were regularly transacting between January 1, 2020, and March 1, 2020
  2. A business was designated as “closed” if it didn’t process a single transaction for three straight days starting on March 1
  3. If, after that three day period, the business processed a transaction, they are no longer considered closed and we back-update previous dates to represent that business as being “open”
  4. An important note: Restaurants who have shifted to processing 100% of their transactions via third party delivery apps (like Doordash, Grubhub, etc.) would also show as being “closed” by this metric

Taking the above requirements into account, here’s a look at how many local businesses in multiple categories have stopped processing transactions since the start of the coronavirus outbreak:

Note: if viewing on mobile, rotate device to landscape for best viewing experience of the charts in this article

Closure rate at businesses in Florida:

A few notable dates for Florida businesses when evaluating the charts in this report:

  • 3/1- Florida announces its first positive case of COVID-19
  • 3/12 – Walt Disney World announces park’s closure
  • 3/17 – bars and nightclubs ordered closed
  • 3/30 – stay-at-home order issued for the counties of Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach
  • 4/1 – stay-at home order issued for entire state of Florida
  • 5/4 – Florida enters “phase one” of reopening (businesses allowed to open at limited capacity, etc.)
  • 5/18 – Broward and Miami-Dade Counties enter “phase one” of reopening 

How has COVID-19 impacted revenue at local businesses in Florida?

The section above showed us how many businesses were forced to shut down entirely, and how many have been able to return to business. But we also wanted to see how the outbreak has impacted consumer spending and revenue.

There are two ways we can examine the economic impact of coronavirus on local businesses: 

  • First, is the impact on total consumer spending in a given category (the increase or decrease in total dollars spent on businesses overall). 
  • Second, is the impact on average revenue at those businesses who are still open and doing business.
  • We will be looking at both views in each of the charts below.

Impact of coronavirus on total spending at Florida restaurants

This chart examines total revenue at Florida restaurants in our analysis in 2020 compared to total revenue at restaurants on a similar day in 2019.

As you can see, total spending at Florida restaurants plummeted in mid-March. Total spending bounced back somewhat as restaurants opened to limited capacity on May 4th, but it still lags far behind 2019’s averages.

Impact of coronavirus on average revenue at open and transacting restaurants in Florida

This chart includes only data from restaurants that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open restaurants vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Revenue at open and transacting restaurants has begun to recover, but things have yet to return to “normal” for the average Florida restaurant.

Impact of coronavirus on total spending at Florida bars and lounges

This chart examines total revenue at Florida bars and lounges in our analysis in 2020 compared to total revenue at bars and lounges on a similar day in 2019.

As you can see in the closure rate chart at the beginning of this article, as much as 77% of bars and lounges in Florida had stopped transacting entirely during the height of the shutdown in Florida. As a result, total spending at local bars and lounges plummeted to near zero.

As more bars have opened their doors, total revenue on weekends has rebounded somewhat, but it looks like the vast majority of Floridians are still staying away from the local bar or night club.

Impact of coronavirus on average revenue at open and transacting bars in Florida

This chart includes only data from bars and lounges that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open bars and lounges vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Examining average revenue at open and transacting bars and lounges becomes a more challenging task.

Due to the state’s heavy restrictions on bars and lounges from March 17th through May 4th, we end up seeing only data from a small set of businesses that were able to remain open during that time frame (likely specialty “bars” that were able to continue to do business through takeout food orders or similar).

As a result, you can take the the spikiness between March 17th and May 4th with a grain of salt.

More interesting to note, however, is the figures after May 4th, which show that bars in Florida who have been able to open for business under “phase one” restrictions (operating at 50% capacity, standing room reduced, and outdoor service areas encouraged) have actually seen a significant increase in revenue compared to 2019.

Again, our closure rate chart at the beginning of this article shows that the majority of bars are still closed, and our total spending chart shows that business is far from “normal” for the bar and lounge industry in Florida. However, this chart shows that the handful of enterprising bars and lounges who have been able to find a way to re-open are taking advantage of some clear pent up demand.

Impact of coronavirus on total spending at health and beauty businesses in Florida

This chart examines total revenue at Florida health and beauty businesses in our analysis in 2020 compared to total revenue at health and beauty businesses on a similar day in 2019.

Health and beauty businesses such as hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, and massage parlors, have become something of a symbol of the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. And, as you can see from our total consumer spending chart, it’s easy to see why.

Total consumer spending at Florida health and beauty businesses dropped to basically zero throughout most of the month of April. Then, on May 11th, as restrictions lifted, total spending skyrocketed back up to mid-March levels.

Impact of coronavirus on average revenue at open and transacting Florida health and beauty businesses

This chart includes only data from health and beauty businesses that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open health and beauty businesses vs. a comparable day in 2019.

As was the case with bars and lounges, the figures you see for the average open and transacting health and beauty business through the month of April are somewhat misleading. They do reveal, however, that even those health and beauty businesses who were able to remain open through the shutdown for the most part did very little business.

Once the state opened back up, and health and beauty businesses went from being over 75% closed down to less than 20% closed, revenue quickly returned to normal.

Average revenue at open and transacting health and beauty businesses in the months of May have actually been consistently above 2019’s averages, suggesting Floridians were eager to get that long-delayed haircut after all.

One major exception, however, is Mother’s Day weekend, which was likely a massive weekend for Florida health and beauty businesses in 2019, and thus one that was difficult to live up to in 2020.

Keep an eye on this post to measure the impact of Florida’s decision to “open up”

While there are some signs that things have begun to return to “normal” for some Florida businesses, our analysis shows that most local businesses are still struggling.

We will update the data in this post on a daily basis and add analysis as the story changes. So check back frequently to see if Florida businesses start to turn a corner as the state continues to open up.

In the meantime, we’re rooting for local businesses in Florida and across the country to weather the storm. 

Visit our COVID-19 research and resources page for more reports on the impact of coronavirus on local businesses

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