Looting devastates businesses already shaken by virus
NEW YORK (AP) —
Looting and vandalism in cities across the country have dealt another blow to small businesses that were already reeling from the coronavirus outbreak.
Along with big chain stores like Target, Walgreen and Macy’s, independent retailers in neighborhoods and downtown sections were targets of vandals and looters who struck as police mobilized to contain large demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Many businesses had been closed by state and local government orders as officials tried to contain the spread of the coronavirus, leaving owners with little or no revenue since March. Now, already facing an uncertain future amid ongoing restrictions related to the virus, owners must figure out how to rebuild or relocate their companies.
Over three nights, Ahmed Muhumud’s Minneapolis optician shop was vandalized, looted and burned, leaving Midtown Eye Care in ruins. The store was just getting back to business after having been shut since mid-March by the virus outbreak.
“This has been a difficult couple of months, and now with the protesters and everything that followed — it’s very difficult,” Muhumud said.
He’s trying to figure out what to do next; the building, which may not be salvageable, is in a hard-hit area with many minority-owned businesses that were also looted and burned.
“We don’t know where to move,” Muhumud said.
Small businesses employ nearly 60 million people, or nearly half the U.S. workforce. Since the coronavirus brought the U.S. economy to a virtual standstill, the government has loaned businesses hundreds of billions of dollars to help them survive and keep their employees on staff as unemployment soars toward 20%. But some won’t make it, and bankruptcies are already on the rise.
Even as they...