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The pandemic’s clutch on businesses leaves empty storefronts across the U.S.

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:47 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As the coronavirus continues to grip the U.S. its economic impact becomes more noticeable by the day. While federal assistance throughout the pandemic aimed to mitigate the damage to the economy, businesses are still having to close their doors.

Empty storefronts are a grim reminder that the pandemic rages on. They riddle once vibrant streets across the U.S. Thousands of businesses have been forced to close for good because of the coronavirus shutdown.

“They are not able to endure the pandemic and what lies ahead,” said Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza.

Carranza says despite the federal Payroll Protection Program for small businesses, thousands have not been able to survive mandatory shut downs. But she is hopeful boards will soon come off once occupied businesses, with other companies purchasing failed ones, or a new business owner capitalizing on an open space.

“Entrepreneurs - they never die. They just resurrect, they retool,” said Carranza.

But that retooling may take awhile according to the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. Dr. Lawrence Yun says these downtown closures could be the norm for some time.

“It depends upon whether the workers come back to downtown offices,” said Yun.

He says the new work-from-home landscape could outlast the pandemic with major tech companies leading the way and announcing long term plans to keep their employees at home. He believes that will be good news for small businesses setting up shop in the suburb, where a lot of working-from-home is taking place.

But Yun says that could leave a void downtown. He expects bankruptcies to continue as the pandemic continues, but he thinks that could lower prices for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

“During that time it also means there will be some price adjustments where some people see it as an opportunity to buy on the cheap,” said Yun.

Yun also notes that some of these storefronts could be converted to address a housing shortage in the U.S.

“That’s a possibility because from the U.S. perspective we have seen an inadequate supply of housing,” said Yun.

Yun did not say when he expects a “price adjustment” to occur in downtown areas.

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