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COVID-19 Business Survey Participation “Critical For What Comes Next”

CEDA is seeking wide participation in its latest business survey to gauge the sentiment of Manawatū-Whanganui businesses since we entered COVID-19 Alert Level One.

“The Manawatū-Whanganui’s economic recovery from COVID-19 hinges on our extensive community of businesses, which is collectively a team of nearly 26,000,” says Linda Stewart, Chief Executive of Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA).

“This is why we need that team to go to CEDA.nz and complete a five-minute online business sentiment survey. It is online now at CEDA.nz and will help us to identify business pain points so that we can do something about them.

“Time is of the essence because the survey closes in just under a week on 20 July.

“If businesses need a reason to participate then we can show them how it has changed the way we deliver support and services. The previous three surveys have been invaluable in showing the trends and concerns at each Alert Level, from cashflow, staff wellbeing, a reduction of customers and business viability – and from this we’ve been able to provide timely, tailored support.

“CEDA has used this information to create the COVID-19 business support hub on CEDA.nz, while rolling out the Navigating COVID-19 for Businesses webinar series. We have also been managing huge demand for business support while delivering NZTE’s Regional Business Partner Programme, where businesses access specialist service providers in areas such as marketing, digital enablement, business continuity planning, human resources, cash flow management, and health and wellness.

“Nationally, the government deserves applause for acting decisively such as through the wage subsidy and its extension, the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, tax relief, ACC, as well as the recently launched Callaghan Innovation R&D Loan Scheme and tourism support.

“Actions like these just don’t happen in a vacuum, they need the kind of evidence CEDA’s fourth business sentiment survey will deliver. Especially now under Alert Level One

“The survey is online at CEDA.nz and it is important that we generate a big response to capture what businesses need to not just survive, but to thrive,” Ms Stewart concluded.

The survey is at CEDA.nz or can be accessed by clicking here.

Summary of the first three CEDA Business Sentiment Surveys

Survey One (March 2020 and pre-lockdown);

  • Businesses reporting impacts reported a reduction of customers which resulted in cash flow and financial viability issues. Concerns were also raised about staff wellbeing.
  • Businesses strongly expressed the need for support in communications and messaging with customers, stakeholders and staff, and a number of businesses expressed the need for accurate information on COVID-19.
  • Businesses also expressed concerns about the supply of raw materials and components for manufacturing from oversees.
  • Some businesses identified tax relief as important along with help with wages. This was prior to the announcement of the Governments initial support package of $8.7 billion, announced on 17th March 2020, which included the wage subsidy support.

Survey Two (March/April 2020 during Alert Level 4):

  • Businesses had a much greater level of concern during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown period than was demonstrated in the first survey.
  • Customer reductions, cash flow and viability issues are major impacts, especially represented in the high proportion of tourism and hospitality companies amongst respondents.
  • Supply chain issues featured within the manufacturing sector, especially the imports of machinery and equipment and inputs.
  • Concerns about a reduction in customers and short-term cash flow were raised across the main sectors impacted.
  • Businesses expressed the need for support with business continuity planning, business strategy, and leading through uncertainty.
  • There was an identified need for clear messaging in matters such as definitions of which businesses can operate.
  • Tax subsidy navigation stood out strongly as an area of support needed as well as wage subsidy navigation.
  • Advice on accessing finance was another strong theme from some respondents.

Survey Three (May 2020 during Alert Level 3):

  • The level of concern under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 was lower than that shown under Alert Level 4 in the second survey.
  • Most businesses had experienced a revenue impact, with 38% of businesses having experienced a revenue impact of 76% or more; 14% experiencing a revenue impact of between 56% to 75%; and 18% of businesses experiencing a revenue impact of between 36% to 55%.
  • Intentions to reduce staff numbers or staff hours did not feature prominently across all survey respondents. Most businesses (59%) intended to maintain staffing levels, whilst 13% intended to reduce staff.
  • The most reported areas of business impact were a reduction in customers, short-term cashflow, ongoing financial viability, a reduction of staff hours or numbers, staff wellbeing and importing. This mirrors the top five business areas impacted that were reported in the second survey.
  • The main sectors impacted were hospitality (accommodation and food); tourism, conference, and events; manufacturing; and health and fitness. This compares to the second survey which found that the top six sectors impacted were: tourism and hospitality; construction and trade; manufacturing; professional, scientific, and technical services; retail; and primary industries as impacted sectors.
  • Businesses required support in a number of areas, with the key themes being marketing, tax subsidy navigation and business strategy and planning.

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