The results of Greater Manchester Chamber’s sixth weekly Business Monitor survey show further stabilisation of customer demand and business confidence at very low levels as employers wait for further clarity on the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions.
The survey reveals that businesses are still reporting huge decreases in levels of sales with 65% of respondents reporting a weekly decline.
Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, Head of Research at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The results of the survey show that whilst customer demand is no longer in the free fall that we saw in the first few weeks of the crisis, businesses reporting increases in demand remain at record low levels. This has all the hallmarks of some form of stabilisation but the overall levels are critically low and will need a huge boost to get back on track.”
Cash management and the lack of adequate cash reserves to meet normal outgoings remain a serious concern for most businesses. In keeping with the trend over the last few weeks there appears to be a level now that most businesses are at when reporting on cash issues which remains at a record low level.
Although use of the Government’s support measures is not as high as the level of awareness, the Business Monitor shows many businesses are reliant on one or more of the support schemes. The most popular scheme is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which nearly 60% of businesses depend on. Take-up of Business Bounce Back Loans has tripled to 15% from 5% in the previous survey’s results.
Subrahmaniam added: “With the release of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ and workplace specific guidance, the critical issues of resuming work, kick starting the economy and rebuilding business confidence have come to the fore. Any resumption must be under safe-distancing rules in strict adherence with the guidance. It is, therefore, encouraging that over 80% of businesses are aware of the guidance.
“There remain some concerns around legal responsibility of employers and the enforceability of the measures, but the high level of awareness offers a good starting point for preparing workplaces for a resumption of normal business activities.”
The sixth Business Monitor survey was conducted between 1st May and 15th May and captured the views of 92 businesses. The survey was carried out by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce with the support of pro-manchester, Manchester Law Society and the North West Business Leadership Team.