COVID-19 takes its toll on downtown Seattle

Aug 5, 2020
Written by wpengine

As of last week, at least 74 street-level Seattle businesses, most of them downtown, had announced they will close permanently, according to data being collected by the Downtown Seattle Association.

The businesses include retail, restaurants, night clubs, even a few fitness studios. The association reports that the businesses cited COVID-19 impacts as a factor in their decision to close.

DSA attributes much of the problem to lost foot traffic due to state stay-home orders early in the pandemic, followed by the phased reopening that limits the number of customers inside stores. Also, it is estimated that only 8% of downtown workers are working from their offices. Indeed, tech companies in Seattle are allowing most employees to work from home until 2021.

Findings from a May DSA survey of 294 Seattle businesses include:

  • The biggest concern (cited by 74% of respondents) is lost business.
  • Nearly all (90% of respondents) have seen a reduction in revenue.
  • Nearly half have seen revenues decrease by more than 75%.
  • Slightly more than one in 10 said they were at risk of permanent closure in less than two months at the current level of disruption. A little more than a third are at risk of closing in less than five months. Nearly one-third were not concerned about business closure.
  • While most layoffs are expected to be temporary, about one in five are expected to be permanent.

After the lifting of social distancing rules, half of all companies:

  • Expect the majority of their workforce to be back at their work sites in three months
  • Expect their organization to stabilize within six months
  • Expect to be profitable within eight months
  • Most think that it will take more than a year for the Seattle economy to recover.

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