Pandemic has local businesses on edge with so much uncertainty

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Not since 9/11 and the 2008 recession has there been so much nervousness over the economy with the coronavirus posing such impactful uncertainty.

Congress is trying to allay public fear with an economic relief package. But even with that potential “rescue,” small business owners in the Hagerstown area are on edge.

“If business doesn’t pick up,” says Tony Fitzwater with Byrd Tire and Automotive on Dual Highway, “we might have to lay some people off. We’re a mom and pop business. We’re just trying to stay afloat like everybody else.”

Even for customers at big chain stores, like Best Buy, the shopping experience is now the “new normal.” To follow the social distancing protocol by communicating online, the store’s product line is especially popular. But orders have to be placed virtually and goods are collected at a now point-of-sale at the store’s front door or by a sales clerk making delivery to your car in the parking lot.

At Rooster Moon Coffee Shop in Hagerstown, barista Delaney Conner says business has slowed “but there’s a recognition we’re in this together.” The market, she says “wants to be supportive of local business here.” She says “there’s a lot of uncertainty” but “the support’s there every day.”

As the Hagerstown community trudges its way through this uncertainty, economists confirm consumer behavior: until households have a sense of financial security they will be extremely reluctant to spend what cash they have for fear it may not last very long.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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