Survey: Hawaii businesses expect extreme economic hardship to continue through 2021

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:03 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite last week’s reopening of Hawaii tourism industry, many businesses say the economic outlook is bleak.

In a recent survey of 1,400 Hawaii businesses, about 30% said they won’t be able to pay any commercial rent for the rest of the year.

And more than 80% expect their revenues to decline this year and next.

“One in 3 businesses face extreme hardship going forward. The most challenged businesses are in customer service, restaurants, retail accommodations, entertainment," said Ryan Tanaka, president of Island Business Management, which helped organize the survey.

Added real estate expert Stephany Sofos:

“What do I see for the future? I see a lot of pain. I know everybody wants to be positive but the problem you have is this ... these shutdowns have gone on for too long," she said.

Ave Kwok is a partner in the Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant in Ala Moana Center, which like most restaurants has been hard hit by the pandemic.

But he’s also a property owner and landlord for 18 businesses. He said nearly a third of them are struggling or have sought rent relief.

“We can see every time when we asked them how the business is, they all ― 100% of them ― experience a downturn," Kwok said.

To prevent a further downward spiral, a coalition of business groups and lenders want to establish a grant program using federal money to help commercial tenants pay their rent.

“Our state received federal CARES Act money and our state may receive federal HEROES Act money," Tanaka said. “We believe commercial rent relief will cast the widest net possible to protect local business and save local jobs."

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