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Manawatū Businesses Mostly Back To Pre-COVID Levels: Survey

The fourth business survey tracking the impact of COVID-19 by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) has found that businesses are getting back to pre-COVID levels with construction and related trades starting to take off.

The four CEDA surveys tell the story of how provincial businesses have performed under each of the national alert level phases,” says Linda Stewart, CEDA Chief Executive.

The latest survey was conducted in July under Level-1 and shows business concern at levels below that of the first survey. That was before community transmission was again confirmed in our largest city in recent weeks.

“A big positive is that revenue impacts have lessened out of lockdown with 23% of businesses now ‘significantly concerned’ versus 29% in March before the lockdown. During Level-4, this peaked at 70% and was 56% in the third survey under Level-3.

“While a positive trend, it remains a worry that almost one in five businesses remain significantly concerned about revenue.

“Most glaringly is the impact on our tourism related businesses. Of these, 88% have seen revenue fall by more than 36% with just under half (47%) intending to reduce staff.

“In terms of wider employment indications, 68% of all businesses either intend to maintain or increase staffing levels with one in ten business intending to reduce staff. This is borne out in jobseeker benefit claimant numbers that are significantly less here than the rest of New Zealand.

“Unsurprisingly, hospitality has been impacted heavily but over two-thirds of businesses (68%) intend to retain staff. While 38% of retail businesses have seen revenue impacts of over a third, 40% intend to maintain staffing levels.

“More positively, 55% of manufacturers intend to retain staff with almost one in ten intending to recruit.

“Construction and trade businesses are the standout with three-quarters of businesses not suffering large revenue impacts. Of these, 43% intend to maintain staffing levels and almost one in two intend to recruit. This reflects a burgeoning construction market.

“The most reported areas of business impact were a reduction in customers, short-term cashflow, ongoing financial viability, staff wellbeing and the imported supply of raw materials/components for manufacturing.

“This explains why marketing, business strategy and planning featured highly in terms of support required by businesses. Other key areas of support needed include leading through uncertainty, business continuity planning, and human resource matters.

“A number indicated that support was not needed, something which we can take as a positive sign.

“We’ve also found that many companies had websites without e-commerce functionality. Digital enablement is low hanging fruit, and this is specifically supported by the NZTE Regional Business Partner programme we deliver in the region.

“This and other forms of support, advice and mentoring is available from CEDA to support businesses to not just recover but to grow across the region,” Ms Stewart said.


Note for editors:

The fourth CEDA survey was undertaken under Alert Level 1 and started on 6 July when New Zealand was in its 66th day without COVID-19 community transmission. It closed on 25 July, which was 85 days after the last case of community transmission with 21 active cases and all in managed isolation.

The fourth survey asked 16 main questions with 186 businesses participating from across the region, but most were from Palmerston North, Manawatū and Rangitikei. Participating businesses covered hospitality, manufacturing, retail, construction, and the trades, along with a sizeable number of diverse businesses also participating.

This survey and the previous three can be accessed by clicking here.

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