Summary of Research
To gauge the impact COVID-19 and the protests have had on downtown first-floor businesses, commercial buildings, and hotels, Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement District staff conducted several informal surveys. An employer survey was sent to office tenants in Capital Crossroads SID in August to determine staffing levels. Here is a summary of the results:
Key Findings from All of the Surveys
- First-floor tenants and hotels have laid off a significant portion of their employees.
- Most first-floor tenants and hotels are worried about the loss of income to pay expenses and are worried about staying in business.
- First-floor tenants and hotels have seen their business drop by half.
- Many first-floor tenants (70%), hotels (71%), and commercial property managers (77%) sustained losses due to the unrest and protests in downtown Columbus.
- 62% of employers required employees to work remotely when the stay-at-home order took effect in March.
- 18% of employers closed their downtown location completely until the pandemic is appropriately controlled.
- Employment is only expected to get to 37% of the pre-COVID level until there is a vaccine.
- There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty about staffing projections among office users and that uncertainty grows the longer the time frame.
First-Floor Tenant Survey
Conducted from 7/17 to 7/25. 86 first-floor businesses received the survey, with 53 completing the survey (62%). 46% were restaurants
- 34% are fully open and 54% are open with reduced services
- 58% of respondents are worried about staying in business
- What would help (top three):
- 28% more carry-out zones and outdoor dining
- 21% knowing when employees are coming back to downtown offices
- 17% marketing campaign to help drive business to downtown
- 70% suffered damage or business loss due to protests
- Estimated damage to property: $941,000
- Estimated loss of business: $2.1 million
Conducted from 7/22 to 7/28. 14 hotels received the survey, 7 completed the survey (50%)
- Only 14% are fully operational
- 57% are worried about staying in business
- What would help (top three):
- 50% knowing when employees are coming back to downtown offices
- 25% marketing campaign to help drive business to downtown
- 8% additional loans from the city or other entity
- 71% suffered damage or business loss from the protests
- $80,000 in damage
- $595,500 in lost business
Commercial Office Property Manager Survey
Conducted from 7/24 to 7/29. 20 managers received the survey, 20 completed the survey (100%)
- 77% suffered damage from the protests
- 71% reported that protests have disrupted the work of their tenants
- 18% report fear of additional violent activity as the reason some workers have not come back
Tenant Survey (C-pass Account Managers)
Conducted by CJI Research from 8/6 to 8/18. Distributed to C-pass account managers at 400 employers within Capital Crossroads SID. 117 responses or a 29% completion rate that represents 8,132 downtown employees. 93% of responses represent office users.
- 50% of employers rotate employees between working at the office and working remotely
- 61% of employers retained all employees at pre-COVID levels and 29% report staff reductions either temporary, permanent, or a combination
- 22% anticipate returning to full pre-COVID on-site staffing once the pandemic is fully controlled
- 51% anticipate reduced on-site staffing levels due to increased remote working once the pandemic is fully controlled
- 39% of employers report no set timing or no plans yet on when to reopen
- The uncertainty grows the farther out in the future one is asked to comment
- Downtown employment is estimated to be 18% of the pre-COVID level and expected to grow to 26% through the end of the year and only 37% January 1, 2021, to the rollout of a vaccine.
Estimated percent of employees working the full week on-site at downtown site
March 2020 - July 1, 2020
July 2, 2020 – Sept 7, 2020
Sept 7, 2020 - Dec 31, 2020
Jan 1, 2021 - vaccine
% of employees estimated to work a full week in downtown
***Disclaimer: The surveys conducted by the Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts was gathered for general informational purposes only. They are not scientific and should not be extrapolated to all businesses in downtown Columbus.