‘Business as usual’ at two-thirds of firms but axe looms

covid_2More than two-thirds (68%) of data and marketing professionals say their companies have turned a corner from the dark days of Covid-19 and are now operating “business as usual”, although there are still major concerns over how many of their staff they will be able to keep on.

That is according to the DMA’s fifth “Coronavirus – The Impact on Business” survey, which shows DMA members estimate their trading revenues improved from -44% in June to -34% in July.

The trade body says that while being down by a third is still a long way from normal trading, it will be welcomed by many who responded voicing their concerns about the future of their businesses.

This increase in revenues is also reflective of the continued, return of the “business as usual” capacity many are seeing, now at 68% in July – up from 53% at the start of lockdown.

Despite these very early signs of recovery, concerns about the impact on businesses has remained high and the number applying for the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has nearly doubled – up from 9% to 16% month-on-month. Additionally, 23% of companies believe they will only be able to continue trading for six months or less.

Organisations surveyed in July reported a significant increase in those believing they definitely will or have already had to make staffing changes amid the pandemic. Businesses that have or expect to not retain freelance or short-term staff increased to 44%, from 33% in the previous phase from June.

More concerning, the trade body says, is the rising number of organisations that have already or believe they will definitely need to make permanent staff redundant in the coming months. This has increased significantly from around a quarter of organisations (25% in June) to a third (32% in July).

Businesses are, however, still clearly trying to avoid this outcome, with many continuing to use the Government’s Job Retention Scheme (58%) and one in four hoping take advantage of the recently announced Job Retention Bonus (25%).

DMA chief executive Chris Combemale said: “Concerns remain high about the future. Despite early signs that revenues might be returning, this is still markedly down on pre-pandemic levels.

“In these difficult financial times for many businesses, the figures suggest difficult decisions for many in the coming months, particularly when it comes to staffing. So, it’s also encouraging to see many using the Government schemes on offer to help avoid redundancies as much as possible.”

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