Businesses Feel Deep Economic Impact from COVID-19

Businesses Feel Deep Economic Impact from COVID-19

More than 1,600 WNY businesses participated in WNY COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership released the results of the WNY COVID-19 Business Impact Survey today with nearly every respondent reporting a loss of revenue due to the pandemic.  More than 1,600 businesses throughout Western New York – half of them deemed essential by New York State – participated in the survey.  The Partnership joined with the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, the counties of Erie and Niagara, and nearly 20 local chambers and economic development organizations to launch the effort to better gauge the impacts of COVID-19 on WNY businesses and employers.

Financial impact:

  • 93% of respondents are experiencing a decline in revenue related to COVID-19
    • Most report a loss of 50% or less of expected revenue
  • 3 out of 5 businesses have postponed investment, many of them indefinitely
  • 75% of respondents have applied or are planning to apply for federal business assistance loans
  • 51% of businesses are reducing variable costs
  • 43% are reducing fixed costs
  • 2 out of 3 respondents report implementing a staffing change including reducing positions or adjusting wages/salaries
    • More than 1/3 of businesses have reduced staff, mainly through temporary layoff or furloughs
  • 60% of respondents have implemented a hiring freeze
  • 60% of respondents have implemented a hiring freeze

“For those of us monitoring the fallout from COVID-19, the results of the survey are not shocking, but they are a stark indicator of how much work lies ahead for the public and private sectors as our community pivots to recovery,” said Dottie Gallagher, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.  “COVID-19 has brought about an unprecedented economic upheaval.  Recovery will largely depend on government, at all levels, responding to needs and providing vital supports, while the private sector must collaborate in new ways to ensure Wester New York business, large and small, rebound as quickly as possible.”

Most pressing short-term concerns 

  • 79% – Decline in revenue/sales
  • 63% – Cash flow
  • 42% – Wellbeing and safety of employees

Most pressing long-term concerns 

  • 73% – Decline in revenue/sales
  • 56% – Cash flow
  • 40% – Cash reserves 

How government can be most helpful:

  • 60% – Expand and/or streamline federal loan programs
  • 55% – Payroll tax cut
  • 41% – Fast-track the release of reimbursements for contract work
  • 28% – Repeal or suspension of certain reporting requirements

Readiness to work remotely:

  • 1 out 3 respondents report not being prepared to switch to remote operations
  • A quarter of responding businesses were prepared to deploy remote operation plans
  • 1 in 5 respondents still do not have a functioning remote plan in place

Biggest concerns for the community:

  • 35% – Permanent closure of local small businesses
  • 31% – Health of the U.S. economy

Professional services, retail, construction and manufacturing were the top industries represented in the responses with 71 percent of respondents identifying themselves as private sector and the remainder identifying as non-profit or independent contractors.  Eighty-one percent of respondents employ 50 or fewer people.

The survey results will be detailed during a webinar on Wednesday, May 6 at 1:00 pm featuring Gallagher, as well as representatives from Mower.  The firm donated its services to help design and distribute the survey using best practices.  You can register for to participate in the webinar HERE.

The following entities joined the Partnership in this effort: 


  • City of Buffalo
  • City of Niagara Falls
  • Erie County
  • Niagara County


  • Amherst Chamber of Commerce
  • Amherst IDA
  • Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce
  • Construction Exchange of Buffalo and WNY
  • County of Cattaraugus IDA
  • Destination Niagara USA
  • Erie County Industrial Development Agency
  • Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Lockport Development Corporation
  • Invest Buffalo Niagara
  • Kenmore and Tonawanda Chamber of Commerce
  • Niagara County Center for Economic Development
  • Niagara USA Chamber
  • Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce
  • Springville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Southtowns Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Visit Buffalo Niagara
  • Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism


The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is the area’s regional chamber of commerce and privately-funded economic development organization. Partnership members employ more than a quarter of a million people in the Buffalo Niagara region. By mobilizing members and strategic partners around common goals, the Partnership grows private investment and jobs in Buffalo Niagara through advocacy, business development, and convening