WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – According to a new report by the Orlando Economic Partnership, the number of businesses opened this year is down by 20% compared to this time last year.
That’s why small businesses still open hope to survive the end of year by getting a big boost during Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday is celebrated nationwide to encourage supporting small businesses after Black Friday. Small Business owners, like Tina Butler of Driftwood Market in Winter Garden, said it’s usually one of the biggest days of the year.
“In previous years, it’s been one of our best days of the year, so we are hoping that this year will be as good, if not better,” Butler said.
Butler actually took over as owner of the Driftwood in March, opened for only one week before having to shut down for seven.
“We probably lost $40,000, just because if you think of all the stock we ordered in for Easter that was wasted,” she said.
Now all the Christmas items are out ahead of the weekend, with a sign that reads, “We are thankful for our customers.” Butler believes her customers, along with a supportive Winter Garden city government and a lenient landlord, was how she was able to survive.
However, according to a recent study done by the Orlando Economic Partnership, 20% of businesses in the region, which includes Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole counties, have not reopened.
“It’s a big hit, that’s one-fifth of the businesses that would have been opened compared to a pre-pandemic baseline,” said Pheobe Fleming, the director of research for the Orlando Economic Partnership. “We can’t say for certain that we have lost permanently 20% of the businesses but we know they are at least not open.”
The Orlando Economic Partnership created the BRACE program for small businesses earlier this year. For free, it connects small business owners with ambassadors and exports in all the available grants and resources out there. Now as Vice President of the Orlando Regional Chamber Jo Newell said, small businesses can use the support more than ever.
“When you hear numbers like that right here in your backyard you feel compelled to do something,” Newell said. “It’s so important we continue to advocate for the small businesses that make up our region. They are the backbone of our economy, so really encouraging people as we look to Small Business Saturday to shop local.”