Heldrich Center Survey Finds NJ Business Owners Eager to Reopen, but Concerned about Consumer Confidence

June 15, 2020

Findings from an online survey of New Jersey business and nonprofit leaders assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses and exploring views on reopening the state economy.

The State of New Jersey has released findings from a new online survey conducted in partnership with the Heldrich Center. The survey of more than 3,500 New Jersey business and nonprofit leaders assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses and explored views on reopening the state economy after it was shuttered earlier this spring in response to the health crisis.

The survey found that the business and nonprofit communities are eager to reopen and return to work, that they understand the public health risks caused by COVID-19, and that they are ready to take the steps necessary to ensure the safety of customers and workers. Many are concerned about the possibility of a second wave of the virus and the ramifications it might have. Over half of business owners (51%) consider consumer confidence as their most pressing issue.

“As we make our way through the recovery of our economy, we continue to be mindful of the businesses we know are hurting,” Governor Phil Murphy said. “As our numbers continue to move in the right direction, we will continue to restart our economy in phases while offering financial aid to as many businesses as possible. Together we will emerge from this unprecedented moment in history stronger and more resilient.”

The research project was led by Dr. Carl Van Horn, Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and Director of the Heldrich Center, and Jessica Starace, Research Assistant at the Heldrich Center.

“The survey’s findings will serve an important role as New Jersey continues its road to reopening and recovery,” Dr. Van Horn said. “The state values the input of the businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the pandemic, and this survey demonstrates that leaders are ready to reopen their businesses responsibly.”

Other key survey findings include:

  • 7 in 10 (68%) survey respondents say they expect to lose significant revenue or nonprofit funding in the next three months. 
  • 7 in 10 (70%) leaders plan to reconfigure work sites, the workplace, and/or customer areas to promote distancing.
  • 8 in 10 (79%) customer-facing businesses will require employees to wear face masks, and 8 in 10 (79%) will also provide them; 7 in 10 (72%) say they will require customers to wear face masks, while 4 in 10 (40%) will provide them to customers.

The non-probability, online survey was administered between May 21 and June 3, 2020 via dozens of industry, chamber, and nonprofit associations, and was conducted in both English and Spanish. Respondents were evenly distributed across northern, central, and southern New Jersey. Half of the sample represented woman- and minority-owned businesses. Most respondent businesses employ less than 10 workers, and vary across sectors. 

For more information, see the press release or the full survey results.