Industry sees a chink of light at the end of Covid tunnel

covid tunnel2Just over a year since the UK was plunged into its first Covid-19 lockdown, the data-driven marketing industry is finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel but most firms believe they have only just started on the long road to recovery following the devastating impact of the pandemic.

That is the key takeaway from the DMA’s latest ‘Coronavirus – The Impact on Business’ survey series, although worryingly the vast majority of businesses (70%) – which include clients companies, agencies and suppliers – are still being feeling the negative affects of Covid.

Even so, those DMA members reporting the economic impact as “extremely negative” has almost halved – from 31% a year ago to 16%. This is also a notable decline from the one in four (25%) feeling this way in November 2020.

In addition, of those businesses which are still feeling the squeeze, almost two-thirds (63%) report seeing some signs of recovery compared to earlier in the pandemic.

These early signs of recovery are reflected in the estimates of revenue decline amid the pandemic. In March 2021, businesses reported revenues are down by just under a quarter (-24.0%), a significant improvement on the low of almost half (-47.2%) reported in May 2020.

Looking forward to the next 12 months, businesses forecast modest revenue growth (+5.9%) and are also planning to recruit for new data and marketing roles (50%).

DMA chief executive Chris Combemale said: “It’s encouraging to see signs of hope returning after what’s been a year of challenges and difficult decisions. As revenues begin to return, this optimism is reflected in the financial forecasts and plans to hire new staff in the coming year. However, these signs of positivity are tentative and the road to full recovery will take time.”

Amid the continued success of the vaccine roll-out and the roadmaps to reducing restrictions, businesses confidence in the UK Government is also improving. After a low of 16% in November, this has returned to 33% – its highest since May 2020. Half of those surveyed, half also believe the Government should be doing more to support businesses.

Combemale added: “The year ahead will have its own challenges, from conducting business post-Brexit to ensuring a data adequacy agreement [with the EU] is finalised, not to mention the unknown of what impact coronavirus will have. As such, we continue to lobby the Government and represent the entire data and marketing industry to ensure it has all the assistance it needs.”

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