In new survey, Hawaii’s small business community expresses little optimism about 2021

Despite signs of economic improvement, small businesses are growing more pessimistic about 2021

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite some signs of economic improvement in the islands, small businesses are growing more pessimistic about 2021, according to a new study.

The latest Hawaii Commercial Rent Survey, released Thursday, found that half of the businesses didn’t pay their rent in full between April and December.

The outlook is more grim this year if they don’t get some form of commercial rent relief, the study said.

“Looking forward, over half of the businesses expect to miss at least one full rent payment between January and June 2021,” said business consultant Ryan Tanaka, who helped put the report together.

“We see there is a progression on how bad the situation is and it’s only getting worse.”

For small businesses that depend heavily on tourism ― including restaurants, retailers, the wholesale trade and the arts and entertainment ― the outlook is even more negative, the survey said.

“Sixty-five percent of the businesses said without government-funded commercial rent relief, they do not expect to survive in 2021,” said Tanaka.

Many are hoping that some of the money in the latest round of federal stimulus money for Hawaii ― estimated at $1.7 billion to $2.5 billion ― will be used to help landlords and business tenants.

“We need the assistance because it’s building up,” said Lisa Kim, marketing director of Brew’d Craft Pub in Kaimuki, which was closed for about four months due to the statewide shutdown.

“We’re working day and night but we know that we have this large sum that’s due and we’re not even breaking even.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says he’s supportive.

“I’m also interested in federal monies that can help with the rent relief program. We have a lot of landlords who have been really burdened,” said Blangiardi.

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