AROUND HALF of small businesses reported declining sales in June, compared to the high of 90% reported in July 2020, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, in a presentation to the Senate committee on trade Wednesday, said 53.8% of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are still experiencing sales declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Lopez said that he hopes the government can further encourage central bank-supervised financial institutions to continue to provide relief measures to clients by renewing, restructuring, or extending loans.

Legislation that supports rent relief, loan repayment moratorium, or project funding is also important for business recovery, he added.

According to the DTI, 10% of MSMEs were not operating as of last month, based on 33,145 respondents surveyed.

The percentage of closed businesses fluctuates as restrictions are loosened or tightened. Around 16% of 24,087 businesses had closed operations in May.

The number was 4.3% in March, also the month when restrictions on business activity were reimposed as COVID-19 cases surged, Mr. Lopez said.

“Based on anecdotes, some that are closed have shifted (to other) businesses. They kept their companies closed because those are the businesses that are not thriving under a pandemic,” he said. “They look for other sources of income and therefore they have to operate another business. They pivoted and changed their business model.”

The department, he said, continues to receive increasing new-business registrations. — Jenina P. Ibañez