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Small businesses in Seattle feeling big impact from coronavirus concerns

Small businesses report seeing a significant drop in sales as more people work from home and take travel precautions because of the coronavirus.

SEATTLE — In Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood, the business slow down started this past work week.

At the Yumbit 2 food truck, the lunch hour was relatively quiet on Thursday.  

Concerns about coronavirus led Amazon to encourage employees who are able to work from home to do so until the end of the month.

"You know, if Amazon's not working, we're not working. That's the reality,"  John Stepan said. The Yumbit 2 employee, added that sales are down 64%.

At Peel and Press in West Seattle, employees are seeing a slump too. Fewer patrons are coming in for diner.

"About 40 to 50 less customers, which you know at $20 a head, it's a lot of money," Dan Austin, owner of Peel and Press, said.

He says foot traffic has decreased up and down California Avenue in West Seattle.

"If you're not selling bottled water hand sanitizer right now, your business isn't doing well," Austin said. "None of us want to lay our people off, but they know job losses are on the table. We want to do everything possible to keep that from being something that has to happen." 

It has happened at Jade Garden in Seattle's Chinatown International District. Eric Chan said his family's business had to layoff their nighttime staff and change their hours. Instead of closing at 2 a.m., the restaurant is closing around 9 p.m. because business has been down almost 60%.

On social media, Seattle's mayor and police chief shared photos, showing them dining out in the neighborhood and encouraging others to do it too. 

The Seattle Office of Economic Development is providing information to small businesses on how to possibly tap into federal resources to provide support.  

OED advocated with the state for allocation of Small Business Administration funds to help alleviate burdens on small businesses in the region during these difficult times, according to Sean Whitcomb with the Emergency Operations Joint Information Center.

In a press release, Governor Jay Inslee said he convened a state COVID-19 Econcomic Retention and Recovery Task force that compiled a list of resources for businesses and workers.  

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