The situation is changing day by day and for many game store owners, business is anything but the usual.
Social distancing and isolation have made the traditional model for local game stores unfeasible if not impossible. Hosting events is no longer an option and likely won't be a long time.
And for the stores in regions that are particular hard hit like California and New York, options are even more limited as they've been forced to close their doors entirely.
But there is some good news. The industry as a whole is coming together to help support the front line game stores and there are still ways to keep your business running, even in the midst of a lock down situation.
John Coviello is on the podcast again to share how he's dealing with the situation in his business, and some of the things he's been doing to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic. Listen in to learn how publishers and distributors are creating programs to help your business continue to generate revenue as well what government programs are being made available to small businesses so they can weather the storm.
Click here to join the Manaverse Network free for 30 days and stay connected with other store owners and stay on top of what's happening in the games industry.
Publisher Crisis Initiative Document (Updated frequently)
Covid-19 Government Programs Available
- Coronavirus Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family Leave Law (Effective April 1, 2020) - GAMA members need to prepare for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was enacted into law on March 18, 2020, and takes effect April 1, 2020.
The federal law mandates employers provide for paid sick leave (up to 10 days) and expands the Family and Medical Leave Act for up to 10 weeks. The cost of all paid sick, family, and medical leave incurred under the new law will be reimbursed to companies via payroll tax credits. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
Where cost to provide the leave is greater than payroll taxes, the IRS will send a check to the employer to cover the costs. Please note that health insurance costs are also included in the credit, employers face no payroll tax liability and self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.
- Federal CARES ACT Implemented to Support Small Businesses - On March 27, H.R. 748 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a $2 trillion stimulus package designed to provide aid to states, industry and workers during the coronavirus outbreak was enacted into law. Among the key features of this law are a $349 billion are:
- The Paycheck Protection Program, which authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide forgivable loans to small businesses to use for payroll expenses, such as employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments. The loan forgiveness option is structured to incentivize employers to keep their employees on the payroll. The amount of paycheck protection loans that will be forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in the employees or significant reduction in employee pay.
- Provides for an Employee Retention Credit, a refundable payroll tax credit worth 50 percent of employee wages paid during the COVID-19 emergency.
- Allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax.
- Expands access to federal unemployment benefits to those not traditionally eligible including those who are self-employed, independent contractors or with limited work history.
- Provides for a one time payment of up to $1,200 to eligible adults to help with lost income due to COVID-19.
- U.S. Legal Organizations Offer COVID-19 Assistance - With uncertainty over job security, evictions, insurance coverage, and the future of businesses, the legal needs of the American people have grown due to COVID-19. In response, several organizations have risen to meet the demand. On Friday March 27, the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation (L4GG) announced the launch of its Small Business Remote Legal Clinic, offering pro bono legal consultations for small business owners to help them understand and act upon the options available under the COVID-19 stimulus package and other grant and loan programs that may be available to them. L4GG says it has put together a coalition of 34 law firms in 30 cities across the U.S. to help staff the remote legal clinics. To be notified when a COVID Small Business Legal Clinic becomes available in your area, please fill out the quick form here.
- SBA to Provide Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) - SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The SBA loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere.
- Federal Lawmakers Working on Economic Stimulus Package - Congressional leaders and the White House are working on different proposals to try to blunt the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy and it’s expected a package could be voted on next week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the White House wants to send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 per child to counter the rapidly declining economy. The cash payments to many Americans would total $500 billion and is part of a $1 trillion economic stimulus plan that the White House and Senate Republicans are working on. The administration is also proposing measures to help small businesses, including nonprofit groups, obtain loans and creating an emergency lending program for airlines.
- H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act - Congress has passed, and the president has signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Act which seeks to strengthens the social safety net by providing tax credits to business to cover the costs of both the expanded sick leave and expanded FMLA coverage as outlined below. The credit is applied to the tax the company normally pays for each employee’s Social Security. This is the 6.2 percent tax employers pay on each employee’s salary. If sick leave or family and medical leave ends up costing more than the Social Security bill, the U.S. government will send the employer a check to cover the remaining costs. The expanded coverage under the bill include:
- Increased Sick Leave Benefit – Requires employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave for people who become infected with the coronavirus or have to care for someone who is, as well as people who are quarantined or whose place of work or children's school is closed due to coronavirus.
- Expanded Emergency Family and Medical Leave - employees will be able to take up to three months of paid family and medical leave, equal to no less than two-thirds of their pay if they have to quarantine themselves or care for a family member who is quarantined or for a child whose school has been closed.
- Increased federal dollars for Food Security Programs - provides for $1.5 billion for food programs aimed at helping those who may struggle to get access to meals during the pandemic, including those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food banks, and the 22 million children who receive free or reduced-price lunch at school.
- Increased Emergency Unemployment Insurance - Provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states to assist with processing and paying unemployment insurance. These funds will be managed by each state and further mandates state’s waive waiting periods and job search requirements if the unemployment was caused as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Summary
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Fact Sheet
- HR748 Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses
- Reuters | Pressure Mounts on U.S. Insurers to Pay Pandemic Business Loss Claims
- National Retail Federation | Coronavirus Resources for Retailers
- US Small Business Administration | Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- CDC | Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- US Department of Labor OSHA | Guidance on Preparing Workplaces
- US Small Business Administration | Disaster Loans
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- Facebook for Business | COVID-19 Resources