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Two-fifths are confident their business can continue operating throughout COVID-19 crisis

Jessica Bird

April 9, 2020

mortgage products drop

Across all industries, 40.2% are confident that their enterprise has the financial resources to continue operating throughout the COVID-19 crisis, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

  

The research, which surveyed 4,598 businesses between 9 and 22 March 2020, also found that 44.4% were not yet sure of their level of business confidence, while 15.5% were not confident of their ability to weather the storm.

Almost half (47%) of respondents across all industries have reported a negative effect on turnover, but 39.8% said that their turnover has been unaffected.

The construction and accommodation and food service industries are among the worst hit, with business confidence dropping to 27.2% and 16.8%, respectively.

Mark Tighe, CEO of business tax relief specialists Catax, said: “This flash survey of UK businesses shows the country is on a war footing and less affected by coronavirus than feared.

“It’s actually heartening to hear that only [47%] of businesses are reporting abnormally low turnover due to COVID-19.

“Given the near total shutdown in many sectors, and the productivity implications of so many people being forced to work from home and juggle childcare and homeschooling, it could have been a lot worse.

“Unsurprisingly, the accommodation and food service sectors have been worst hit while millions of people adjusting to working from home in the professional services, IT and scientific industries have been least affected.

He added: “All this evidence lends some credibility to the way stock markets have been rallying relatively robustly over the past couple of days.

“This positive sentiment will be reinforced by statistics that show it’s business as usual for a surprisingly high proportion of companies.”

Neil Knight, business development director at Spicerhaart Part-Exchange and Assisted Move, added: “The March figures are the first ones that reflect the impact the spread of COVID-19 has had on the sector.

“Unsurprisingly, there has been a sharp 6.7% month-on-month drop in output across the new housing sector, and output is also 6.7% down on February 2019.

“Although we came into the month on the back of steady growth, contractors have been mothballing sites and furloughing staff in waves throughout March.

“Next month’s figures are likely to paint an even gloomier picture as the impact bites further.

“Times are undoubtedly hard, but we all need to hold our nerve: even though the lockdown seems set to continue for a while yet, it is only temporary.

“We are expecting to see demand for new homes increase strongly in the months and years to follow.”


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