The latest business survey tracking the impact of COVID-19 by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) has found that the effects of COVID-19 are still substantial on our business community. Unsurprisingly most impacted sectors include Hospitality – Accommodation and Food, Tourism, Conferences and Events.
“This is the fifth in our series of surveys that have looked at the economic impact of COVID-19 on businesses in the Manawatū-Whanganui region,” says John Morris, Business Development Manager at CEDA. “Whilst the region’s economy is resilient, it remains a worry that there are still significant impacts of COVID-19 on our business community. These surveys give us an understanding of the challenges and concerns experienced by our business community under each Alert Level as well as the support that these businesses require and the format in which they require it.”
This survey showed that 47% of respondents are substantially concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses, compared to 23% under the fourth survey. “The increase in concern was comparatively higher under the most recent level compared to previous Alert Levels, with the region going into Alert Level 2, and Auckland moving to Alert Level 3,” Morris explains.
Respondents indicated that their businesses were mostly impacted by the reduction in customers, short-term cash flow, staff wellbeing and ongoing financial viability. Followed by reduction of staff hours or numbers and supply of raw materials or components for manufacturing from overseas. A common theme amongst respondents from the largest sectors represented in the survey is a reduction in customers and short-term cash-flow impacts.
Around 50% of companies have also experienced a revenue impact of more than 36%.
“We are relieved that despite the revenue impact, staff reductions have not been severe. Very few companies, only 9% intend to reduce staff levels, whilst 50% intend to maintain staff levels and 16% intend to add more staff,” says Morris. Staff reductions have mostly been in hospitality and tourism as well as the conferences and events sectors. According to Morris 27% of construction and trades and 18% of manufacturing companies intend to increase staff members.
The data and insights from these surveys inform CEDA on how to tailor the business support CEDA provides. Marketing as well as business strategy and planning feature highly in terms of support required. Businesses also need support in areas such as staff wellness and resilience, leading through uncertainty and business continuity planning. Whilst businesses use online platforms such as Facebook for marketing, there is still a need for greater digital enablement.
“Digital enablement is supported by the NZTE Regional Business Partner programme that we deliver for the region. CEDA encourages businesses requiring support or who would like to meet with professional advisors to contact the CEDA team who are here to help. ,” Morris concludes.