As businesses clamor to re-open, they should recognize that the operating environment in which they will emerge is different than the one they left behind. Not only will they face operating restrictions and additional costs, but consumers and customers will have different expectations. With rising costs and decreased demand, the path to profitability will get narrower. For many, the opportunity to recover from months of lost revenues will be an aspiration that is beyond reach.
Companies from major retailers and package carriers to local restaurants and hair salons are awakening to a new economic reality in the age of the new coronavirus: Being open for business is almost as hard as being closed. Facing higher costs to keep workers and customers safe and an indefinite period of suppressed demand, businesses are navigating an ever-narrower path to profitability. To make the math work, some businesses are cutting services and jobs. Others are raising prices, including imposing coronavirus-related fees aimed at getting customers to share some of the expenses.