Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s third Business Monitor survey in association with Manchester Law Society and pro manchester

  • 27/04/2020

The results of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s third Business Monitor survey supported by Manchester Law Society and pro-manchester show the scale of economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic on local businesses. 

The latest data set shows that the trend of low customer demand, cash flow pressures and business concerns continue. After the crash to historically lows levels, economic activity seems to be plateauing at those levels. Nearly 93% of the respondents are concerned about the sudden fall in customer demand, with B2C sectors in a much weaker position compared to B2B sectors. The balance of businesses reporting on customer demand was -70 for current sales and -71 for advance orders, which means that a lot more businesses reported reduction in sales than those reporting an increase in sales or sales remaining at the same levels as before.

Cash flow positions are still very weak, and businesses need urgent support. While the fall in customer demand will affect both turnover and profitability in the short to medium term, many businesses are experiencing a reduction in working capital. 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.

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.

Awareness of support schemes continues to be high, but take-up is poor. Combined with anecdotal evidence, the tracker data provides strong evidence that businesses are facing difficulties accessing support. Many respondents expressed difficulties financing support though CBILS. With nearly half a million claims made under the Job Retention Scheme, many businesses will be hoping that the salary subsidy payment from HMRC before month end.

The third Business Monitor survey was conducted between Friday 3rd April and Thursday 16th April and captured the views of 100 businesses.  The full report is available here.

The fourth week Business Monitor survey is now underway and can be filled in using this link.