Survey Finds Coronavirus Already Hitting Business Revenues

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By no author11 March 2020

Around half of companies have already experienced a hit on their turnover as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new survey by Dublin Chamber.
 
The survey, carried out by Dublin Chamber amongst more than 400 companies, found that businesses are apprehensive about the potential economic impact of the coronavirus, with the overwhelming majority (97%) expressing some level of concern. Three in 5 respondents (60%) said they are ‘very concerned’, while 37% said they were ‘somewhat concerned’.
 
While the concern is widespread, just over half of firms (51%) note that Covid-19 has had an adverse impact on their revenues so far. Of those companies who have experienced a decline, 6 out of 10 (59%) said the revenue reduction has been less than 10%, while 16% noted a hit on revenues in the region of 11-20%. Just shy of 1 in 10 firms have experienced a reduction of 21-30%, while 5% have saw revenues fall by 31-40%. A slightly higher number (6%) are reporting a 41-50% hit, while 5% note an impact greater than 50%.
 
So far, the revenue impact has been most widespread in the “retail and wholesale” and the “accommodation and food services” sectors. Company size does not appear to be a factor in how much revenues are impacted.
 
According to Dublin Chamber’s Director of Public & International Affairs Aebhric Mc Gibney: “These findings indicate that the coronavirus is already having an impact on trade for many companies. For the majority of companies, the impact on revenues so far has been less than 10%. However, the impact is very much dependent on the sector in which the company is operating. Feedback from within our membership shows that firms in the accommodation and food services sectors are being hardest hit, along with retail and wholesale-focused companies.”
 
While over two thirds of firms (67%) have cancelled overseas trips due to the coronavirus, domestic business is continuing with somewhat less of an impact. A slim majority of companies (51%) report that they have not cancelled any meetings or events in Ireland due to the virus.
 
The survey highlights a high level of preparation and contingency planning under way throughout the business community, with 4 out of 5 firms (80%) reporting that they already have a continuity plan in place. Around 6 in 10 businesses (58%) report that they are using the Business Continuity Planning checklist issued by the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation.
 
Mr Mc Gibney said: “The survey results tell us that, at present, most businesses continue to operate normally, ensuring that the relevant precautionary measures are taken and that Government guidelines are adhered to. However, there is also a genuine concern at the potential economic disruption as people’s behaviours adjust in response to their concerns about Covid-19.”
 
Businesses are taking a similarly pro-active approach to health and hygiene information. The vast majority of employers (92%) have shared HSE advice on Covid-19 with their staff.
 
As widely reported in the media, many companies are trialling or considering the introduction of remote or flexible working procedures to deal with any health issues arising in the workplace. Seven in 10 businesses (71%) report they are in a position to implement remote/flexible working at short notice, though some have questioned how sustainable this would be in the long-term.
 
A further 17% of companies report that they are working on a plan to allow staff to work remotely, while the remainder have no such plans or say that it is not possible for their business.
 
Mr Mc Gibney said: “It is important that the Government does all it can to help businesses to deal with cash flow issues in the short term. To that end, we welcome the announcement by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation of a support package to help companies in difficulty to cope with the impact of the virus. We are liaising with the various departments to ensure that the voice of business is being heard and that the required help and supports are available to affected companies.”