Small business optimism fell 5.5 points in December to a level of 95.9 on the National Federation of Independent Business’ Small Business Optimism Index. The level is below the average Index value of 98 recorded in 1973.

“This month’s drop in small business optimism is historically very large, and most of the decline was due to the outlook of sales and business conditions in 2021,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement. “Small businesses are concerned about potential new economic policy in the new administration and the increased spread of COVID-19 that is causing renewed government-mandated business closures across the nation.”

Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months fell 24 points on the Index to a net negative 16%.

The full NFIB report can be found here.