The 12th Suffolk Chamber of Commerce survey into how its members are responding to the spread of the COVID-19 virus suggests an increase in both activity and optimism as more firms implement their phased return-to-work plans.
Conducted last Wednesday, (May 27), the survey showed that 51% of firms will require no notice at all to re-open their businesses and a further 23% will require less than a week to re-open.
Furthermore, this survey recorded further welcome reductions in some of the key challenges that companies have been facing since the March 24 lockdown.
For example, 16% fewer firms are having supply chain problems (27%) and 7% fewer are having issues with staff availability (29%) when compared to the previous week.
The number of firms reporting that they could possibly cease trading altogether over the next two to three months has fallen by 10% to 22% of the total – the lowest figure since the lockdown began.
Nonetheless, in spite of this growing positive trend, most business remain anxious about their immediate cashflow situation, a fact mentioned by nearly nine out of 10 respondents.
In addition, some specific companies find themselves in particularly precarious positions, which is a cause of worry to Suffolk Chamber.
“We are hoping to be eligible for the amended Small Business Grant, but are struggling to get a clear indication from the council as to how they intend to apply this latest round”
“We are running out of money, surviving on Bounce Back loan now. Very disheartened not to be eligible for grant, as because of type of business we don’t have business rates.”
Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’s head of communications & campaigns, said: “The data from this survey suggests that the majority of our members are willing and able to either re-open their businesses or further increase the scale of their operations and the number of staff actively involved in doing their jobs. Nonetheless, there are still too many accounts of businesses unable to access any support whatsoever and Suffolk Chamber will continue to voice their concerns to Government and to local councils to ensure that they are best able to continue trading in the months ahead.”