CSO – Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey

CSO – Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey

CSO statistical release, August 2020

The Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS) has been created to measure and report quickly on the impact of COVID-19 on business in Ireland. The fifth wave of the survey was collected in the week commencing 27 July 2020.

A total of 3,000 enterprises were surveyed online for the fifth wave of the BICS, with 24.9% of sampled enterprises completing the survey.

More than half of respondents had lower than normal turnover

  • More than half (54.1%) of responding enterprises had lower than normal turnover for the four-week period 29 June to 26 July 2020.
  • Over a third (34.2%) of enterprises reported turnover at or close to normal expectations, while more than one in ten (11.7%) had higher than normal turnover.
  • In the Wholesale and Retail sector, 19.1% of respondents reported higher than normal turnover for the four weeks 29 June to 26 July 2020.
  • Over the same period, a higher proportion of large enterprises (42.2%) had close to or normal turnover compared to 32.5% of SMEs.
  • When estimating impact on turnover for the following four weeks (27 July to 23 August), 39.9% of responding enterprises expected to have close to or normal turnover with 7.0% expecting higher than normal turnover.
  • Just over half (53.2%) of respondents estimated lower than normal turnover for the same period.

Comment: Very little surprise in the findings in relation to Turnover – the positive is that the Turnover numbers are starting to increase again – the SMEs seem to be unfairly impacted though again.

Turnover increased for almost a third (32.3%) of responding enterprises since Phase 3 easing of restrictions on 29 June 2020.

  • In the Wholesale and Retail sector, 44.0% reported an increase in turnover since Phase 3.
  • More than four in ten (43.8%) enterprises performing below normal expectations experienced an increase in turnover following Phase 3 easing of restrictions on 26 July 2020.
  • Almost seven in ten (68.5%) enterprises performing at or above normal expectations reported no change in turnover following Phase 3 easing of restrictions.

Comment: Going forward restrictions need to take into effect the impact on the Economy and  especially SME’s – the Government needs to ensure that the Economy can still operate in a safe manner. Including the closing of Businesses across the board in restrictions is not sustainable.

Office based enterprises had an average of 59.2% of staff working remotely

  • Office based enterprises had an average of 59.2% of staff working remotely in the week ending 26 July compared to an average of 13.7% of staff working for non-office based enterprises.
  • Non-office based enterprises had an average of 73.8% of staff working at their normal working location compared to 32.9% of staff at office based enterprises.
  • Small enterprises had a higher average of staff working at their normal working location with 62.9% while large enterprises had the lowest average at 51.1%.
  • Large enterprises had the highest average of staff working remotely at 39.9% while micro enterprises had the lowest average at 18.1%.
  • The overall average of staff not working in the week ending 26 July for responding enterprises was 7.3%.

Comment: We have found the underlying trends show that if Business can operate with staff working remotely then they will, but for Distribution or Manufacturing business this is just not possible.

An average of 18.2% of workforce returned from temporary leave

  • Responding enterprises had an average of 18.2% of their workforce return from temporary leave in the four-week period 29 Jun to 26 July 2020.
  • Non-office based enterprises had an average of 23.3% of staff return from temporary leave while office based enterprises had an average of 4.1%.
  • Micro enterprises had an average of 26.2% of their workforce returning from temporary leave, while large enterprises had an average of 10.3%.
  • Responding enterprises had an average of 8.5% of staff return from remote working to their normal place of work in the four-week period 29 June to 26 July 2020. An average of 8.8% of staff in office based enterprises and 8.3% in non-office based enterprises returned from remote working.
  • Micro enterprises had an average of 10.1% of staff returning from remote working compared to an average of just 3.3% for large enterprises.

Comment: It is positive to see a high number of staff returning from Temporary leave – this will also give the economy a further boost when people can return to normal earnings. Is there a case for companies looking ahead in terms of remote working and reduced office costs?

From discussions with our Customers and our wider Owner Managed contacts it is our view that those businesses who need the new EWSS (Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme) will struggle to cash-flow the payments on reduced revenues (>30% fall in revenues) and this will inevitably lead to more people being put back on Temporary Lay-off which the scheme is designed to help avoid.

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