The brunt of the economic slowdown from the coronavirus pandemic is falling hard on small businesses across Louisiana that have had to endure shutdowns and capacity restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus.

The fallout is slightly higher for Louisiana businesses or hovering close to national averages in economic measures that have been teased out for counties across the country to measure the impact of the pandemic through data collected by Opportunity Insights. Credit card purchases for merchants have been evaluated by the organization for the past few months to show how the country's economy is recovering, tracking metrics like revenue and consumer spending.

The measures are compared with January before the coronavirus pandemic began and in some cases show improvement from a phased reopening of the economy that began about two months after mid-March stay-at-home orders were imposed. The measures don't yet take into account some reopening reversals resulting from a new surge of coronavirus cases. 

As of July 8, small businesses's revenue was down nearly 20% across Louisiana and 19% nationwide, compared with January. The number of small businesses open in Louisiana was down 23% against a national average of 20%. Consumer spending, which refers to shopping trips at retailers and restaurants among other businesses, was down 9.2% across Louisiana, compared with a national average of 9%.

BATON ROUGE AREA: Revenue at small businesses in East Baton Rouge Parish were down 20.3% as of July 8 from January levels. That's an improvement compared with its lowest valley of 46% as of April 5. Revenue was down 11.1% in Ascension and 44.9% in Livingston, according to Opportunity Insights data. Both of those markets have also recovered from their lowest points in early April. 

West Baton Rouge Parish small business revenue was down 32.2% as of July 8 from January; Iberville, 22.9%; and East Feliciana, 21.3%. Only West Feliciana small business revenue was up compared with January, by 19.1%. 

Some of the changes between parishes may be a reflection of commuting patterns, which have changed significantly since the pandemic began, said Andrew Fitzgerald, economist at Baton Rouge Area Chamber, which has been tracking the Opportunity Insights data weekly for the past few months. 

The number of small businesses open in East Baton Rouge Parish is still down 21% compared with January. That's a recovery from its lowest point in late March, but has been back on the decline since mid-June. West Feliciana was down 11.3%; Ascension, 16.4%; East Feliciana, 20.7%; West Baton Rouge, 20%; Iberville, 27%; and Livingston, 35%. 

Consumer spending is still down 13.7% in East Baton Rouge Parish as of July 1 compared with January, but had been down nearly 40% on March 29.

Consumer spending data wasn't available for all Baton Rouge metro parishes. In Livingston, it was up 1.2% compared with January but down 1% in Ascension Parish and down 20% in East Feliciana Parish.

NEW ORLEANS AREA: Small business revenue in the Crescent City was down 46.9% compared with January as of July 8. In St. Tammany and Jefferson parishes, it was down 23.6% and 15.9%, respectively. All have recovered since the lowest point when the Louisiana stay-at-home order began in late March.

The number of small businesses open in Orleans Parish was down 31% since January as of July 8. In St. Tammany and Jefferson, it was down 23.1% and 20.8% each, all of which have recovered since lows in early April.

Consumer spending was also down by 13.9% since before the pandemic began, which is better than its peak when spending was down by about 50% in March. Likewise, consumer spending in St. Tammany was only down 10.1% and 4.2% in Jefferson as of July 1. All have recovered since April. 

LAFAYETTE AREA: Small business revenue in Lafayette Parish was down only 1.3% since January as of July 8. St. Landry small business revenue was up 14.7%, while it was up 9% in Acadia Parish.

The number of small businesses open in Lafayette Parish was down 20% since January; St. Landry, 21.9%; and Acadia Parish, 36.1%.

Consumer spending also was down by 20.8% compared to January as of early July in Lafayette Parish. It was down 14.4% in St. Martin and 35.4% in St. Landry.

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