Yes. A very small neighborhood grocery store closed. The owner doesn’t need the income and he always has people wanting to buy the property.
But he opened everyday of the week. He said if I don’t have the store I would get tired of scratching my balls. And it was very entertaining for him. I feel he will become used to not working and not re-open. And we will lose a convenient store and all the neighborhood gossip. Very sad.
So far, I’ve only noticed a couple so far in my area (western Chicago suburbs) that seem to have closed, but I admit, I don’t get out much these days, and haven’t been looking closely:
The Subway restaurant down the street from me shut down entirely not too long after Illnois started its stay-at-home orders in March. It hasn’t reopened, but it had seemed to me that that place was never busy, even before COVID-19, so maybe this was just the last straw.
A gas station near me shut down, maybe in April. The place has changed brand affilliation repeatedly over the years (I think it’s a Phillips 66 now), and might well have changed ownership, too. I did note, the other day, that there was a painting team working on the inside of the place, so maybe they will be reopening at some point.
In the immediate area around our house we’ve lost a head shop, a cell phone store, a boutique store that was basically a showcase for some designers, and a communal hot tub and massage place. All were barely making do before the lockdown, it’s not surprising they closed up. A bit further afield a few restaurants have closed for good, but restaurants close fairly frequently.
One of the best restaurants in town, that has been there for over 20 years and is owned and operated by a very good chef, has decided that they will not re-open. It is right on the water, excellent food, good bar, etc. Should have everything going for it but… The restaurant and bar business model depends upon packing in the customers, tables close together, bar full of customers, this is not possible with social distancing. “Wow, we had a great day yesterday” just will not happen any longer. Self-limiting the number of customers also means that you are limiting the amount of money that can be made.
This area on the coast must make most of the money during tourist season in order to make it through the slow winter. The tourist will come back some day, but unless society is willing to pack in the people again a lot of business models for many different venues no longer make sense.
Let’s not forget that the real estate market is about to get pounded like hell, both commercial and residential. Although it’s true that real estate is something that varies from one city to the next, one neighborhood to the next, we can anticipate that there will be a strong decline in demand for a while. Some places may be able to re-purpose warehouses into apartments, but on the residential side of things, there will be a major backlog of past due rents that will stop being forgiven.
I’m curious to know at this point how banks are working with lenders to spend that fiscal stimulus. It’s not just a matter of putting funds into the hands of businesses and consumers, but it’s also a matter of flexibility at the ultimate end of the lending spectrum that will matter.
So do all lending institutions and lenders have incentives to forgive loans, and if so, for how long?
I never quite understood why all the small shops had to close, while the big ones stayed open. I doubt several of the shops in our burb have never seen 10 people in them at 1 time - if they’ve even seen that many throughout an entire day!
On the one hand, I wonder how much cash reserves such shops have to weather an extended shutdown. OTOH, I suspect at least some of the shops in our downtown are essentially “hobbies” generating little profit in the best of times.
A Western dance club near me has closed for good, figuring that people are not going to get on the dance floor any time soon. We are just starting to reopen. I suspect many places are holding on, hoping that people will flood back in. If they don’t, they might close for good. That goes for restaurants who will be unable to make money with reduced seating, and with lots of people nervous about going out.
If there is a resurgence causing places to close again, a lot more will die, since it costs money to reopen and small business owners don’t have enough to do it twice.
Presumably there will be businesses that will be formed to fill the void. It sucks for those that invested a lot into their business that they’re not going to be able to reopen, but there should be plenty of cheap retail and office space to rent out so that it’s easier for people who are interested in starting their own. Businesses that are able to remain open will presumably see an increase in traffic, although that’s more likely to be larger chains. I’m just being realistic here, and I’m sorry for having to say this, but recessions are kinda needed once in a while to weed out businesses that really aren’t good uses of economic resources. It’s an unfortunate fact that such businesses are likely to be small independent stores that don’t have economies of scale to operate at better margins, but a decent amount of the reason small businesses fail is simply because their owners are not very good at business, even if they are good at whatever drove them to open the business. If you don’t have the cash reserves (or capacity to draw on credit) to be able to withstand this kind of disruption, you’re not being effective in risk management. If that’s because you can’t manage to grow those reserves and have to rely on every piece of credit available to you already, then your business really shouldn’t survive as it’s only able to survive in the absolute best conditions. For many small businesses, the inability to stockpile reserves is the same as the non-business owner on a salary who spends all of it instead of saving, and thus has nothing to do with their business model but everything with the spending habits of the owner.
However, I haven’t seen any businesses that I work on fail yet, and that’s mostly due to PPP loans and the like. If businesses are not opening back up now that they are able to, the reason is either because it wouldn’t be profitable to open in the current climate, like restaurants that have to crowd people together, or because the owner simply doesn’t feel like reopening. With the evidence I see from my line of work doing the books for small businesses, I think there’s support from the government to keep most small businesses that are still viable alive. Obviously I only have a handful of them, so individual results may vary.
What a lot of people didn’t realize is how the economy has become a borrow-and-spend, just-in-time produce, order, and consume machine. If it stops for a moment, people get crushed. If you don’t have the cash to survive, then you have to hope that you’ve got enough cash to survive until the government lifeline kicks in. And hope that you’ve got enough business when that lifeline’s gone. The damage is so widespread that even as many find relief in these stimulus programs, there will still be a lot of casualties.
I’m far from being a subscriber to Ron Paul’s/Stansberry Research ZOMG! Weimar Republic! Bretton Woods is a Scam! Gold Standard Now!"…but I don’t accept that the federal reserve can just keep dumping dollars into the economy without consequence either. Those dollars are supported by bonds, and at some point, bondholders and would-be buyers may question whether the US will pay the debt off. At minimum, that puts pressure on the US to deal with funding social programs and the military.
In my area, the only store closures that I’m aware of have been:
A grocery store chain that apparently was stiffing suppliers as far back as November. They were going down the toilet anyway. They were an “organic food” store that sold overpriced trendy crap.
A restaurant that really should have closed years ago because it was gross. They could not figure out how it was possible to organize take out. Was beyond their limited capabilities. A restaurant that has food that people can pick up? Or deliver it? This must be the devil’s work!
My favorite bar across the street has been curtained off since around March 15. I’ve seen the area around the front door open the last two days. They’ve been absolutely silent on social media since a day or so after the mid March forced closure.
I’m not thinking good things. Perhaps some workers are doing some refurbishment ahead of the end of June proposed reopening. Or, perhaps it’s being taken over by the landlord, which is what I fear.
The US doesn’t need to pay off the debt. It only needs to service it and roll it over. The credit facility for the US government is effectively infinite. If it needs to it can spend and spend like crazy, and because its debt is denominated in its own currency, the only problem that can be created is that inflation goes up. It will always find a buyer for bonds in its own currency in its own citizens with excess money looking for a safe haven. If inflation goes up, then the required interest rate for those people will go up, and that will cause the interest rates on other things to rise, which will slow down economic activity and lessen inflation by reducing the velocity of money, even if the economy suffers for it. Less wealthy countries tend to suffer from being unable to find enough buyers of bonds in their own currency to fund their projects and thus need to issue bonds in other currencies which they can’t just infinitely borrow in.
Eventually, if the money that’s being dumped into the economy starts circulating faster in a way that causes inflation, interest rates will be raised and inflation snuffed out at the cost of economic growth. But the US’s ability to borrow will remain. As long as the economy stays in the doldrums, money can be created ad infinitum - they just need to be very cautious and ready to slap interest rates way up once inflation rears its head.
The economy is about allocating resources, not allocating money; money is just the method of keeping track of how we are allocating resources. More money can be created so long as the creation of the money more easily allows better decisions to be made on the allocations of those resources. The problem with the economy now is that due to the health crisis there is significantly lower demand for many goods than there used to be, and our economy will need to be significantly retooled to deal with the new spread of demand for goods. There is more structural unemployment as people will need to get retrained in the jobs that are going to increase in demand. These are all well-understood concepts by modern financiers, and we seem to be in very good hands in terms of the people who directly control the money supply. So long as Congress doesn’t come to an impasse on the debt ceiling again, there shouldn’t be a problem - just perhaps a very long recession as we try to figure out out to to restructure things.