The tourism and hospitality sectors were the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the creative industry, transport and storage, and the crisis also spilt over into the IT sector and industry.
These are the results of the second survey “Together through the crisis” conducted by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the USAID Cooperation for Growth Activity project.
Production and service capacities were reduced by two thirds in companies, but the majority of employers, 85%, managed to keep the same number of workers as before the crisis. One-third of the survey respondents expect partial or full recovery of their capacities.
The survey, conducted from 21 to 27 April, in which 1,000 companies participated, showed that working from home, limited working hours, inability to physically reach customers, as well as illiquidity, were the biggest problems that companies experienced in the seventh week of the coronavirus crisis.
The results of the survey again indicate the high sensitivity of the private sector to the liquidity problem, and the biggest challenges in this respect are the inability to cover basic operating costs and problems in collecting liabilities.
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Businesses have adapted to the crisis in several ways; one in two engaged in remote work, while 43% has reduced the number of working hours. One-third of companies started negotiations with creditors to postpone payment of their loans and one-fifth of companies were forced to close part of their work processes.
In terms of size, small business owners and micro-enterprises were most at risk, and almost all companies expect sales and profits to fall by the end of 2020.
Just over a fifth of respondents, 21%, managed to change the way they do business quickly, indicating that those companies were the most prepared for the crisis. The survey shows that there is potential for further progress, as one in three companies can adapt partially or completely to doing business online.
Almost all medium-sized and large companies have a website, the number of companies with web sales has increased, and one in five companies sells products or services through an e-shop. Although the most optimal sale via the Internet is where customers are offered all payment options, there is only a small percentage of companies that offer customers more than one or all options.
In the seventh week of the crisis, business people estimated that, assuming the crisis ended in the last few days of April, they would need more time to recover than they originally anticipated. Recovery times are generally estimated at 3-6 months or 6-12 months. The waiting time for the collection of liabilities has shifted mainly towards the early autumn period.
The vast majority of companies have made use of state aid measures and what business people have found most useful are direct assistance to the SME sector through minimum wage disbursements, deferral of payment of taxes on wages and contributions, deferral of advances and guarantee schemes in support of businesses.
A significant number of businesspeople, between 10% and 14%, need further assistance in the use of state aid measures.
The survey shows that the decline the transport, tourism and industry sectors significantly influences the decline in the business of other companies in the same supply chain.
This post is also available in: Italiano