More than 26,000 businesses have disappeared off the New Zealand Companies Office Register, including 1,651 in the Bay of Plenty in eight months.
The latest figures show up until August, 26,774 businesses were removed from the register. The numbers look set to exceed last year when 30,817 were removed off the register with 1,819 of those businesses having company addresses in the Bay.
Experts say losing your business can have devastating effects and amplify feelings of ''failure and guilt'' - but for others, it can be an opportunity to start a new venture.
Covid has changed the business environment, with some sectors shrinking to levels never seen before.
YOU Travel Bethlehem managing director Kay Rogers said she felt ''totally crushed'' making staff redundant after Covid hammered the travel industry and she had to downsize.
"When Covid hit, we operated three branches, now we have one at Bethlehem.
''Making staff redundant brought me to tears. I had to dig deep to force myself to concentrate on any positives. Clients were relying on us, and as traumatic as what it all was, that gave us the incentive not to give up. ''
Sheer determination had kept her going, she said.
''I wasn't going to let Covid destroy what has taken 30 years to build up. We have been through the worst of it, and we need to catch up with the rest of the world [including Australia], who are now reconnecting.
''I predict the biggest spike in travel for decades is just on the horizon.''
Last month, the manager of the iconic Lakeland Queen Markus Pietfel told NZME it was ''heartbreaking'' having to make 15 staff redundant as the boat was put into indefinite "hibernation".
"It's a family - everyone worked together, we had a really good team. Unfortunately, we can't keep going. It's not possible."
The boat was removed from Lake Rotorua after 30 years of taking customers on a dine and cruise around the lake. After the first lockdown last year, the business lost about 90 per cent of its customers.
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the number of retail businesses and outlets
have been declining since 2017 and hundreds more had closed since lockdown.
Hartford said margins were squeezed to a point where businesses weren't profitable because of increased costs, inability to pay bills, multiple lockdowns especially and a strongly competitive market.
''Labour, freight, utilities and products have jumped dramatically, which makes it harder and harder for retailers to keep their doors open and trading profitably.''
Deciding to close a business could be a ''difficult and deeply emotional decision''.
''It's not something a business owner will do lightly, but it is the reality some are facing.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said businesses could shut for a wide variety of reasons beyond their control.
''It could be a result of changes in regulation, bad timing or supply chain constraints but often it is because of innovations that mean buyers choose other options, or the offering is no longer necessary.''
If business owners close down their company amicably with no unpaid creditors, it can actually boost the person's credibility.
''It shows they can be trusted. Through the process of creative destruction, businesses close all the time. It means capital and human resources can be reallocated to other parts of the economy where there are shortages.
''At the moment there are labour shortages, so most staff impacted by business closures will find jobs fairly easily somewhere else.''
Restaurant Association of NZ chief executive Marisa Bidois said owners would typically look at how their business had been trading and what the future forecast was for them.
''For some, they know trading in a level 3 or even level 2 environment is unsustainable. Mounting debts, lack of staff and uncertainty over the future are the most common reasons we hear for a business closure.''
Business owners invest a part of themselves in their businesses - ''it really is a labour of love''.
''Closing a business means letting go of something you've worked hard for. It affects your team. There is the guilt associated with having to let people go and the feelings of failure.
''It's a huge amount of emotional stress.''
But restaurants were looking forward to getting some certainty over the summer season and the future, she said.
''They are also optimistic about the possibility of opening our borders next year.''