Half of the more than 1,000 New Jersey businesses surveyed on their 2021 outlook believe that the coronavirus pandemic will continue to cause revenue losses through at least the first half of next year.

In the New Jersey Business & Industry Association's 2021 Business Outlook Survey, 47% percent of respondents — most of which are small businesses with fewer than 25 employees — claim they'll take more than a year to generate the profits lost during state-mandated COVID-19 closures, or never will.

"We definitely saw some businesses that were more significantly impacted, such as healthcare, transportation services and retail, as well as manufacturing," NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka said.

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More than three-quarters of those surveyed said they anticipate future losses related to the health crisis. Thirty-three percent expect to lose revenue through the first half of 2021, while 11% expect revenue loss through all of next year, and 6% see the losses continuing beyond next year.

Seventy-six percent of New Jersey businesses experienced decreased earnings through the first eight months of 2020, the survey finds. When asked about sales and profits in 2020, businesses recorded their first net negative responses since 2008 and 2012 respectively.

Businesses appear confident that COVID-19 will not impact their operations in 2021 as much as it did in 2020. While the optimism is weaker than in previous years, 46% of businesses predict increased sales in 2021, and 41% expect to make a profit next year (mostly between 1% and 3%).

Close to a third of respondents said they had to increase prices substantially or moderately in 2020.

"As we are now confronted by a second wave of coronavirus that will continue to impact the livelihoods of many business owners, it is even more incumbent for our leadership to provide support, comprehensive planning and outside-the-box thinking to help them, and to avoid any mandates or policies that would further strike at their bottom line," Siekerka said.

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