Greater Manchester Chamber has released the results of its first Business Monitor survey, which tracks the impact of coronavirus on businesses.
The survey was conducted between Friday 20th March and Thursday 26th March and captured the views of over 100 businesses. The results show that the short-term outlook is significantly negative and is likely to worsen as business leaders grasp the full extent of disruption to normal trading and their supply chains.
Data from the Business Monitor shows demand hitting record lows wiping out any gains seen since the start of the year and highlighted in the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey. The balance of firms reporting a decline in current sales is –68 and the balance of firms reporting a decline in advance orders is even lower. This means that a lot more respondents reported a decline in sales than those reporting an increase or sales remaining at similar levels.
With falling demand and potential delays in payments, many businesses have seen a huge hit on their cash positions. The balance of firms reporting cash flow problems is -88 meaning a lot more businesses reported difficulties in maintaining cash flow positions and none of the respondents to the survey reported an improvement in cash flow positions in the last few days.
Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara (pictured), Head of Research at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Overall, the results strike a stark picture and reveal how the outbreak of Covid-19 and the substantial public health response have led to significant distress for many businesses.
“Any upturn that the UK economy received from the decisive election victory that the Conservatives won in December 2019 has been rapidly lost and the results of the Greater Manchester Business Monitor shows that many businesses are still grappling with the shock and abrupt decline in business activity levels.
“With a prolonged lockdown possible, there could be further damage to the national and regional economy. As a result, business confidence is low and the majority of business leaders are either not so confident or not all confident about prospects in the short term.”
Greater Manchester Chamber will be conducting the Business Monitor survey every week to provide up to the minute data on the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on local businesses. The Chamber is working closely with key agencies across Greater Manchester and at a national level to ensure the feedback from business is represented and action is taken to offset major sustained economic and social damage.