Small businesses prepare for customer furloughs

FORT LEE, VA (WWBT) - Thousands of Fort Lee employees could face furloughs in the coming months, which would impact area businesses in Petersburg and Hopewell.

The federal spending cuts mean thousands of civilian employees will be making spending cuts of their own.

Things deemed "unnecessary" are usually cuts for families on a budget. For women, that means beauty services like hair, nails and tanning.

Most of the customers at Hopewell's Tan 'n Time comes from Fort Lee, both civilian and military. Owner Blakely Cannon is preparing now for a possible hit to her business.

"I know that extra expenses are the first things to go," said Cannon. "So we start doing free upgrades, we run bigger promotions, we discount things more."

More than five-thousand civilian employees at the military base will be furloughed. Each worker will be out 22 days total, which equals a 20-percent pay cut.

However, Cannon remains confident. Her business has already survived high gas prices and a recession. She said the sequester will just be another hurdle for her to jump.

"I think we'll do ok," said Cannon. "Only time will tell. It's just another thing we've got to take one day at a time."

Even if a sequester resolution happens, the mandatory furlough days could still be included. Notices to the employees that will be furloughed are expected to go out starting later this month. The furloughs are expected to begin April 22nd.

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