Business confidence is starting to bounce back following the easing of lockdown. This is the key finding of research conducted by managed services provider eacs, which compared business sentiment in March with today.
The research into the views of companies across the tech and finance sectors, as well as those in the property and leisure industries, found that the majority (60%) of businesses reported that they were busier than usual in June. This represents a 17% increase on the figures reported in March. Furthermore, only a third of respondents reported issues with cash collection and invoice chasing down from just under 50% in the weeks that followed lockdown, a clear sign that confidence was returning with cash now flowing throughout the supply chain.
However, while 54% of businesses are now reporting that their business is either growing or operating as usual, there has been a 44% increase in the number of companies (59%) reporting a negative outlook for the future of the economy between March and June.
Kevin Timms, Chairman & Chief Executive at eacs, commented: “Covid-19 clearly represents a significant threat on many fronts. Throughout this pandemic, we have wanted to get a measure of how our customers are doing and how their outlook has changed over time. What we discovered was that, while the nationwide lockdown endured, businesses were most concerned staying afloat, saving cash, protecting jobs through the government’s furlough scheme and, in general, simply working to keep the lights on.
“However, with lockdown now starting to ease, it’s clear that business sentiment is starting to shift to the next problem – the economy. In June, 65% of businesses reported that they were concerned about the negative impact the pandemic will have on the short-term health of their business, which was up 12% from March. Although the true scale of the economic impact of Covid-19 will only become clearer in the coming months, business optimism about the economy is evidently in decline.”
Despite the gloomy outlook for the short-term future of the economy, the large majority (70%) hold the view that the pandemic will have a positive and transformative impact for business in the long-term. Whether it is the rise in remote working or having to move operations online, the pandemic has ushered in a dramatically transformational period for businesses of all sizes. As a result, many are now seeing the long-term, positive changes that the pandemic can bring to human and business behaviour.
Kevin concluded: “Our survey also revealed an expectation amongst businesses that short-term economic pain will be followed by a cathartic, positive change in human and business behaviour in the long-term. For example, an unintended consequence of the lockdown period has been a renewed emphasis on sustainability, with clear skies over normally polluted cities a key highlight. Further, the increase in remote working has also shone a light on the enormous potential to help businesses better balance their reliance on consumable resources with the use of digital technologies. Business leaders are clearly starting to recognise this and view the pandemic as potentially having a long-term, positive impact on the behaviour of both businesses and wider society.”