When students were evacuated from US campuses in March 2020, the effects on students, educators and the universities themselves were well documented – but businesses in college towns have also been hard hit.

One business, a diner called Lou’s near Dartmouth University, revealed to Vox that sales took a 70% decline as students left and lockdowns were imposed.

Some colleges are stepping in to stymie the losses felt by businesses: Cornell University has donated $100,000 to a fund supporting Ithaca’s local businesses, while some universities have waived rent for businesses on campus. Alumni have also stepped in to save their favourite college haunts with online fund-raisers.

A gloomy outlook for the 2020/21 year

Students are generally agreed to be significant contributors to local businesses in their college town. According to a survey conducted by PRWeb, 99% of college students spend money on dining in restaurants every month, while 70% visit bars each month.

So with colleges such as Harvard already having announced that next year’s teaching will all be conducted remotely and to allow just 40% of students to live on-campus, the outlook is grim for many of these businesses in 2020/21 – and students may return to their college towns in autumn 2021 to find that some of their favourite local businesses no longer exist.

Read more on this story from Vox.