COVID: SME Loans, Mask Shortages, Starbucks

As federal COVID-19 stimulus programs have dried up for now and talks to renew them stalled, local communities are looking to fill the void by providing loans to SMEs that have been hit hard by the coronavirus .

For example, Muskegon County, Michigan offers something called “recovery loans”Of up to $ 20,000 to local businesses with fewer than 25 employees. The loans, which carry a 4% interest rate, no origination fees and no payment for 90 days, are offered through Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.

The local response comes at a time when negotiations for another round of federal aid programs have dragged on for months, leaving countless people and small businesses on the alert and strapped for cash. It also coincides with a new wave of the pandemic that has pushed hospitalizations and the number of daily cases in the United States and Europe to levels not seen since April.

The resurgence of the virus is again straining the supply of masks and other personal protective equipment used by frontline healthcare workers to treat patients, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper says some hospitals have started recycling masks, while others are trying to find new suppliers to replenish stocks that had been built up in recent months, but which have now fallen to a two-week supply.

3M CEO Mike Roman told the WSJ that professional-grade N95 masks “are always in high demand – we have more demand than we can supply.”

Consumers are worried

The lingering effects of the pandemic also continue to have dramatic effects on consumer habits.

According to the recent PYMNTS How we buy survey, 59% of U.S. consumers would need to know that a COVID-19 vaccine was readily available before they felt comfortable returning to their pre-pandemic routines.

This has an impact on behaviors such as the way consumers buy and eat. For example, 49% of consumers buy more online and less in-store. Similarly, 19% of them eat less in restaurants and order more takeout online.

And although the numbers have declined since May, a much higher share of consumers are buying retail items, take-out, and groceries online more than before the pandemic began:

For example, the digital switchover has radically changed the morning coffee routine for millions of people who now work from home instead of going to the office.

“Generally speaking, we’ve seen US transactions migrate from dense metropolitan centers to suburbs, from cafes to drive-thru, from early morning to mid-morning,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said at the conference. the company press conference. recent earnings call.

In June, the upscale coffee chain announced a plan to reposition its outlet lineup, a move that will see it close 800 existing stores in North America, but open 850 new ones.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: AUTHENTICATION OF IDENTITIES IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY – DECEMBER 2021

On:More than half of American consumers think biometric authentication methods are faster, more convenient, and more reliable than passwords or PINs, so why are less than 10% using them? PYMNTS, working with Mitek, surveyed over 2,200 consumers to better define this perception gap in usage and identify ways in which businesses can increase usage.

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