ABA Urges Government Leaders to Provide Fiscal Relief for Small Businesses

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The American Booksellers Association is sending letters to Senate leadership, members of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and governors in all 50 states and some territories as well as the mayor of D.C. regarding fiscal relief for small businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

ABA was joined by 10 other organizations in its letter to Senate leadership and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The co-signing organizations were the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association; the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association; the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association; the New England Independent Booksellers Association; the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association; the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association; the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance; the California Independent Booksellers Alliance; Brixy, Inc.; and the Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Association.

ABA is urging government leaders to:

  • Provide financial relief in the form of grants for paid sick and emergency leave and for businesses that must temporarily close;
  • Provide tax relief for small businesses;
  • Guarantee everyone (including the uninsured) have access to COVID-19 diagnostic testing and treatment;
  • Continue to streamline the SBA loan process; and
  • Aggregate information on COVID-19 financial assistance.

See ABA’s letter below and watch next week’s issue of BTW for template letters bookstores can send to their representatives.

On behalf of the American Booksellers Association, the trade association of independent bookstores across the country, we are writing to urge you to provide financial relief to any independent retailers that have been impacted by COVID-19, or has been forced to close due to either COVID-19 or due to directives from you or a health department office.

The financial reality of a small bricks-and-mortar retailer, where even a successful store might only generate a 2 percent net profit, means that the impact of a pandemic such as COVID-19 can have a catastrophic economic impact. Demanding that a small business shut its doors “temporarily” could easily lead to that same business shutting down permanently.

This doesn’t just impact the business owner and their staff, when small businesses shut down, it impacts the overall economy as well.

Small businesses are the engines of our economy. Bricks-and-mortar retailers employ 47 people for every $10 million in sales, according to an analysis by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance of U.S. Census data. (If chain retailers are removed from the data, leaving only independent retailers, the figure is even higher — 57 jobs.) If COVID-19 forces the closure of countless retailers, the ripple effect it would have on the overall economy could be devastating and long-lasting. 

With that in mind, we ask that you:

Provide financial relief for paid sick and emergency leave for businesses with 100 or fewer employees. It is crucial that the government provide financial grants to any small business with staff who have contracted the coronavirus, are adhering to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine, must care for a family member who is at-risk for coronavirus, or must care for a child due to school or childcare closings.

Provide financial grants for businesses that must temporarily close due to social distancing measures and limitations on crowd capacity for recreational and social gatherings. While we understand the need for social distancing to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, any actions taken at the state level to temporarily close or limit operations of businesses must be met with financial assistance. Without financial relief to weather the storm, this is likely to shut down businesses permanently. The same type of urgency given to the airline and cruising industries must be given to small businesses.

Push back the deadline for state tax filing by at least 60 days for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Guarantee everyone (including the uninsured) have access to COVID-19 diagnostic testing and treatment at no cost to the consumer.

Submit an application to the Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans so the state can receive vital financial assistance.

It is crucial that you protect Main Street during this time of crisis. The Great Recession of 2008 provided us with a lesson as to the kind of ripple effect the closing of one business can have on the local economy.

As Time reported in 2009, “a single lost job becomes infectious, combining with others and spreading through family, neighborhood and community. Widespread cutbacks in spending by families mean lower demand for businesses and lower tax revenues for the government. This belt-tightening means fewer car sales and thus fewer jobs for car-part makers. It means less government spending on infrastructure and other public services, including economic development.... it can mean a permanent drop in earning power and standard of living — a reversal of the American Dream.” This is no less true today, and what happened during the Great Recession should be our cautionary tale.

It is of the utmost importance that financial relief includes support for Main Street retailers. 

Thank you for your consideration. 


Allison K Hill
Chief Executive Officer
American Booksellers Association