The news of businesses slipping under the turbid waters of the COVID crisis very rarely reaches the front pages or the urgent news block of the local or national news. There is not a single industry that has avoided impacts by shutdowns. Even at home, you can hear the whispers desperate for hope.
On the streets and in the stores, people are apprehensive and anxious and are seeking the light at the end of the tunnel, and the return to the opportunities as before. While the idea of basking in pre-March society wanes, there is one industry that is in a full emergency mode. Auction and Liquidation Companies.
Often, the auction industry is the leading indicator of rough economic waters.
Matthew Price, Auctioneer and Auction Marketing Professional says, “Commonly the first phone call is for an emotionally distraught businessperson seeking consultation on liquidating their business.” Plenty of businesses have sound business plans and were highly successful pre-pandemic, he laments, “Sound business plans work if you can conduct business.”
The list of businesses that are feeling the full force of the lockdowns who have announced they will not reopen continues. With some, the lack of available cash due to razor-thin margins may not have enough cash to get started to full operations. With the federal government, and the state supplanting businesses with Paycheck Protections and Business Operation loans, some can continue at a much slower pace. As those programs run out of money the businesses run out of borrowed time.
In early March, Mr. Price of Price Auctions & Estates was ramping up for two auctions. A storage lien auction, and a recently deceased estate. When the state shut down, he says “Those sales went into limbo until reopening plans were made.” Now that we are almost four months into the shutdown, “There is a rather large backup of Estates, Surplus Sales, Storage Liens that all need resolution.”
Mr. Price continues; “The idea that backlogs are easily resolved fade as other markets need liquidation services.”
Asked if this will get better since he first wrote an article titled “The Coming Estate Sale Implosion,” his response was surprisingly confident and a warning of sorts, “No, with many different needs from across the spectrum, probate backlogs, plus the increased filings for bankruptcies after the legal system opens, our hands will be full.”
“Once businesses can move from being sedentary to being active, they will have a better idea of where they stand economically and financially,” Mr. Price said, “If they can’t move forward, we will consult them on options.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the solution can sometimes be more difficult with physical distancing. “We provide our clients with a no-touch solution from bidding to pick up. It’s important that even when we are in unfortunate circumstances, everyone is kept safe,” said Price.
Matthew Price is a National Auctioneer Association (NAA) Member and an Auctioneers Association of North Carolina (AANC) Member. He was the 2018 President of the Auctioneers Association of North Carolina.