Third Business Monitor survey reveals further decline in business confidence

Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s third Business Monitor survey shows the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on local businesses, with the spectre of business failures looming large.

The survey was conducted between April 3-16 and captured the views of 100 businesses.

Nearly half of the respondents reported a reduction in their workforce in the past week, while another 39% also expected a further reduction in the coming week.

While the fall in customer demand will affect both turnover and profitability in the short to medium term, many businesses are experiencing sudden and severe cash pressures.

Delayed payments, disruptions to supply chains and weaker demand pose a significant cash flow challenge.

For the third consecutive week, no respondent to the tracker survey reported an improvement in cashflow positions in the past few days.

The Business Monitor records a further decline in business confidence levels.

With demand at historic lows and no clarity on when the lockdown will be relaxed, there has been a dramatic decline in optimism amongst business leaders.

More than two thirds of respondents reported not being confident at all about business prospects over the next three months.

Only 14% of respondents had some confidence in being able to maintain sales and turnover in the coming weeks.

Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, head of research at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Greater Manchester businesses are grappling with an unprecedented collapse in customer demand and of primary concern to most business leaders is the effect on their cashflow.

“The size and scope of the support measures unveiled by the Chancellor reflect the magnitude of the economic emergency, but is imperative that the support reaches those businesses that need it the most and reaches them as quickly as possible.

“Businesses are facing difficulties or delays in accessing government support.

“Unless vital cash can be released to businesses soon, whether through grants, Job Retention Scheme salary subsidies or CBILS, the spectre of business failures looms large.”

The Business Monitor survey was conducted by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce with the support of pro-manchester and Manchester Law Society.