Small businesses in America have been hit by a devastating double whammy. Stores that managed to survive the economic shutdown now face a severe outbreak of looting and vandalism that could close them for good. Rioters might justify their actions by arguing that property damage is nothing compared to the suffering of black Americans at the hands of police, but the destruction of small businesses has profound economic and cultural consequences.
As of mid-May, economists projected that more than 100,000 small businesses had been lost thanks to the COVID-19 quarantine. That accounts for at least 2 percent of small businesses in America. More than 30 percent of small business owners said they would be at risk if the shutdown lasted more than two months. Now, just as they are given the opportunity to start reopening, shop owners in America’s cities must contend with riots. For those already scraping by due to lost profits and waiting weeks for relief from the Paycheck Protection Program, the expenses incurred from stolen goods and property damage could be the nail in their store’s coffin.
Small business closures affect more than just their owners. Shops employ members of the very communities rioters claim to speak for. Small businesses employ nearly half the nation’s workforce. There are over two million black-owned businesses in this country. And black Americans will only be further disadvantaged if they don’t have meaningful work to return to when the protest and riots abate.
What the antifa crowd and other class-war instigators may not realize is that their actions will further empower the corporate system they seek to dismantle. Major brands can afford to virtue-signal their support for protesters on social media, even if they are targeted. In the long run, the destruction will take a lot of their smaller competitors out of business.
The Gucci stores and Targets will be able to survive the losses incurred from riots. The mom and pop shops will not. Big retail stores can afford sophisticated insurance policies that cover all manners of disaster. Small businesses often lack such security. Store owners who cannot afford to repair their broken windows or replace their stolen stock will be forced to close permanently.
The trend toward online retail will accelerate if physical storefronts continue to be attacked. Retailers who already do all of their business online, such as Amazon or Jet, will become even more profitable. Large corporations will further consolidate their power at the expense of the American worker and consumer. More jobs will be outsourced to countries with cheaper labor.
The consequence of fewer small businesses is that America will continue its rapid descent into a country of stuff over people, consumerism over community. Such a warping of collective values will hardly ameliorate the racism or the poverty the protesters and rioters say they oppose.