The Hartford Storm Sandy Infographic (Graphic: Business Wire)

Small business owners were most impacted by connectivity issues such as phone and Internet service (56 percent), according to The Hartford Small Business Pulse: Storm Sandy, which surveyed New York, New Jersey and Connecticut small business owners who reported being impacted during or after Storm Sandy.

The survey revealed that 71 percent of impacted small business owners experienced power outage, which likely led to temporary disruptions in business operations. In addition, approximately three-fourths (74 percent) of impacted owners had to close their doors for a period of time, and it took them an average of seven days to reopen. While only 11 percent experienced structural property damage, 52 percent experienced loss of sales or revenue as a result of Storm Sandy.

“Our research shows that loss of connectivity had a big impact on small business owners, which affected their ability to contact customers and keep their businesses open,” said Ray Sprague, senior vice president of the Small Commercial insurance segment for The Hartford. “We have found that small businesses who take the steps to prepare and protect the business, such as establishing emergency communication systems and backing up critical data, tend to be the ones that can prevail after weather emergencies.”

Despite the notable effects of the storm, approximately nine out of ten owners (87 percent) said that they were equally or better prepared than other small businesses in their area.

The survey, which was fielded nearly three months after the storm struck the East Coast, also found that:
  • Customer issues (65 percent), employee issues (47 percent) and supplier issues (44 percent) were challenges for impacted owners during or after the storm;
  • One-third (36 percent) of small business owners impacted said that they were impacted significantly;
  • More male small business owners (42 percent) reported that they were significantly impacted compared to female small business owners (28 percent);
  • In addition, more impacted respondents had to close their businesses for a period of time in New York (81 percent) and New Jersey (78 percent), compared to Connecticut (64 percent); and
  • Impacted small business owners in New Jersey were more likely to have experienced power outage (82 percent) than those in Connecticut and New York (71 percent and 62 percent respectively).

Storm Preparation

One out of four impacted small business owners (25 percent) prepared for Storm Sandy by creating backup copies of critical data and programs, while 20 percent prepared an emergency kit with essentials (e.g., flashlights, water) and the same amount protected their buildings from the elements (e.g., boarded up a storefront).

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