Over the last year, one news story has competed with the abundance of COVID-19 talk, and that is in regards to the closures of hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the globe. With stay-at-home orders, restrictions on store hours, curfews, and general fear of being outside – governments are trying to put an end to the virus. However, when the virus is dead and gone, what will be the state of people’s lives?
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), an estimate of 158,000 small businesses will shut-down due to COVID-19, which is around 14% of small businesses in Canada.
For our neighbours to the south, the pandemic has claimed over 73,000 small businesses to date. With all this loss, who is profiting?
While many companies have struggled day-to-day just to get by, one company has been thriving. Amazon.
Since the start of the lockdown, total e-commerce sales have nearly doubled – understandably so. People are stuck indoors and the convenience of shipping right to your doorstep mixed with the boredom around not leaving your house leads to more online scrolling and clickbait purchases. With Amazon controlling nearly half of the online market, they have experienced their strongest year-on-year growth. This has been the company’s biggest quarterly profit since 1994, which is the year Amazon started.
With a new government taking control in the US, many are worried about what that means for the economy and market that Amazon already controls heavily. Joe Biden, who was inaugurated just a few weeks ago, is an Amazon shareholder, like many other politicians. The continued growth of the online shopping store might make many politicians richer, but for all the hard-working citizens that put their livelihood on the line over the past year, they might be out of work for good.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, has been regarded as the world’s richest man since 2018. Breaking a nearly twenty-year reign by Bill Gates, Bezos was quick to leave his mark among the riches. With a net worth crossing the $200 billion thresholds, Bezos quickly became the richest man in modern history. With all that money and power, Bezos is now encouraging his Washington contacts to continue with the lockdowns – putting the nail in the coffin for his small business competitors. Hefty fines for staying open in addition to the loss of foot traffic is too much for most owners who are left with no option.
Simultaneously, Bezos and Amazon get richer, putting a smile on the faces of shareholders everywhere, especially those calling the shots in Washington D.C.
With no end in sight so far regarding the steady cases and new province-wide shut-downs, Bezos continues to benefit. With new leadership in the US, will more strict relegations come into play? Will more small businesses be forced into bankruptcy as Jeff Bezos continues to get richer?
The good news is, you can help by shopping local and supporting small businesses! Many small businesses offer their products or services online as well and your purchases go a long way. Fight the convenience of Amazon, and think about the people whose lives have been turned upside down over the last year. Everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in some way, shape, or form, but there are ways to make it better for some.
Supporting small businesses in your community or elsewhere is a simple way to help. Many small businesses have to turn to Amazon as a way to sell, with the powerhouse taking a large percentage of the sale. You can slow the takeover by shopping locally and supporting other businesses. If you need ideas, visit greenschoolsgreenfuture.org and shop sustainability through the many small businesses we support, such as Annmarie Gianni or Brave Soles!
For more tips about how you can support local businesses and allow them to prosper post-pandemic, click here. While you’re there, sign-up for our monthly newsletter and never miss a beat!
Written by Cassandra Briscoe