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- Sixty-six per cent of respondents reported being impacted by COVID-19, and of those, 60% reported the effects as severe, down seven percentage points from a similar survey carried out in April.
- Almost half of respondents said they have no plans to make redundancies, with 23% expecting to have to make redundancies, and 28% considering it. Of the jobs already lost 11% of respondents had made between 1-5 redundancies.
- Less than three per cent of respondents experienced a positive effect on their business.
Three hundred business owners have responded to a survey jointly run by Exeter Chamber of Commerce, Exeter City Council, the FSB and InExeter on their experience of business as we begin to re-emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown.
Forty-five per cent of businesses who responded were from the retail and hospitality sector, including retail, bars, restaurants and leisure, one of the sectors currently still facing major restrictions on trading. 86% of those surveyed employed up to 20 people.
Sixty-six per cent of respondents reported being impacted by COVID-19, and of those 60% reported the effects as severe, down seven percentage points from a similar survey carried out in April. Less than three per cent of respondents experienced a positive effect on their business.
Business owners were particularly asked about redundancies in this survey. At this time almost half of respondents said they have no plans to make redundancies, with 23% expecting to have to make redundancies, and 28% considering it. Of the jobs already lost, 11% of respondents had made between 1-5 redundancies.
Jo Caine, Chamber board director and managing director of recruitment firm Cathedral Appointments said: “While there are some extremely concerning results from the survey, that we know will result in further closures and redundancies, we are beginning to see businesses rebuild their sales levels and work out how to minimise job losses. For employees and employers looking for advice, Exeter Chamber is running two focused web shows on this topic in July with advice for both employers and employees who are looking for their next opportunity.”
In order to shape a picture of the future working environment, businesses were also asked about their premises and whether they planned to move as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 50% of businesses reported that they do not need all of their current workspace, with many planning to downsize or looking at shared space. A number of businesses indicated they would like to move premises but are locked into lease agreements.
Tim Wadsworth, Chamber board director, chair of the Chamber Property Group and managing director of workplace transformation specialists Space, said: “We are expecting to see a considerable shift in the way office space is utilised in the short term, but would encourage businesses to think as far ahead as possible. Where businesses are looking for advice on how to manage their premises, we encourage you to get in touch with the Chamber.”
Travel to work plans saw respondents indicate that private vehicle use is high with 79.9% driving however, most respondents ticked multiple boxes showing that 55.3% intend to walk and 35.8% cycle.
Skills and training needs revealed in the survey data included digital, e-commerce, IT working from home, finance, cashflow, marketing, health and safety, social distancing.
Cllr David Harvey, lead councillor of environment and city management, said: “This survey has given us important insight into the experience the business community is facing. Exeter City Council will continue to work with businesses to address issues where possible. One of the initiatives designed to help businesses come out of the lockdown is a new series of webinars to help businesses reopen.”
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