While the coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of shortages, one thing we aren't short of are statistics. Active cases. Closed cases. Recoveries. Deaths.
And, of course, the resulting economic impact, especially on small businesses and their employees.
According to the National Restaurant Association, sales are expected to decline by $225 billion over the next three months, and somewhere between 5 million and 7 million jobs will be lost.
That's "just" restaurants. Anywhere people tend to gather in close proximity, like gyms, brick-and-mortar retailer, theaters, concerts, events, leisure and hospitality in general -- basically anything you can't do at home, or have delivered to your home -- is already suffering.
And many, especially small businesses, barely have the cash reserves to weather the present, much less the uncertain future. When you're a local business that survives not by offering the lowest prices, or utmost in convenience, but because your service, ability to satisfy customers, and connection to your community is so strong that you can overcome lesser economies of scale by charging slightly higher prices... when times get tough and discretionary spending becomes a luxury, previously loyal customers have no choice but to turn to other options.
That's why Amazon is hiring 100,000 people. That's why, in a market that has lost approximately one-third of its value, Walmart stock has fallen less than 10 percent.
Many major retailers will survive. Many huge restaurant chains will survive. Many big businesses will survive.
But many small businesses will not.
So while you're already doing your part to help flatten the coronavirus infection rate curve, take an extra step and do one thing today that will help a struggling entrepreneur, and his or her employees.
Order takeout from a local restaurant whose dining area is closed. Sign up for online sessions from a fitness studio whose doors are closed. Buy something you need from a local retailer. Buy, instead of streaming, an album from a favorite indie artist who can no longer tour.
Granted, you may pay just a little bit more, and that's tough to do when own financial belt has tightened.
So if you need to, think of it as self-serving: By helping a favorite small business stay in business, you play a small role in whether it will be there when things return to whatever the new normal may be
Which means you won't only be making things a little better for someone else.
You'll also be making things a little better, in the long run, for your community.