The Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce has published the results of its new COVID-19 Business Barometer survey. With lockdown restrictions easing, and more businesses able to welcome customers, the survey paints a mixed picture for retailers, professional service providers, bars and restaurants in the wake of the pandemic.
Key points from the survey:
- Most business have been hit hard during lockdown with nearly half of respondents seeing revenues fall by 80% or more. A quarter had no sales revenue at all during lockdown. A few have benefited;
- Short-term optimism on recovery from lockdown varies widely; 25% are pessimistic to some extent, 35% neutral or uncertain; and 40% are optimistic to some extent. While a few see no challenges as lockdown is relaxed, most concerns revolve around the difficulties posed by working, meeting or gathering in groups while observing social distancing, ensuring that customers and staff feel safe or lack of demand;
- On average businesses are more optimistic about their longer-term prospects than the short-term. Over half are optimistic to a lesser or greater extent and for some business is booming. The majority, even those who are optimistic, see a wide variety of longer-term challenges; the biggest concern by far (50% of respondents) is around the possibility of recession, lack of business investment and falling consumer spending;
- Several see opportunities arising from the growth in home working and innovations introduced during lockdown such as online ordering and local deliveries.
Thirty-four businesses operating within five miles of Haslemere town centre completed the survey between 9th June and 2nd July 2020.
Ian Rowley, author of the Business Barometer Report and owner of The Haslemere Bookshop said: “This survey results are consistent with what’s happened across the UK, with short term concerns focussed on the difficulties posed by working, meeting or gathering in groups while observing social distancing, ensuring that customers and staff feel safe, and lack of market demand. In the longer term, it is heartening to hear that businesses see opportunities to build on new services and skills developed during lockdown, although we know many are concerned about the impact of a recession.”
“We’re grateful to everyone took part in this research and would urge as many people as possible to get involved next time – we need to know what you think in order to make strong representation on your behalf.”
Craig McGowan, President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce said: “As we publish this report, the UK is emerging from a period of lockdown and into the economic and social landscape of what has been termed ‘the new normal’. The Chamber will build on the feedback from the Business Barometer over the coming months and will raise awareness of these findings with local and national influencers.
“While none of us can predict the future, Haslemere’s businesses continue to show resilience, innovation and pragmatism. The support of our local community will be vital in helping them to weather the storm and we are grateful to them for the loyalty they are showing at the current time.”