Greater Oklahoma City Chamber releases results of business impact study

Friday, March 20, 2020

by Justin Tinder

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber released results from its first point-in-time survey of business impact from the COVID 19 pandemic. The survey was implemented during a 48 hour period beginning at noon on Tuesday, March 17 and ending at noon on Thursday, March 19.

“We know this is a rapidly changing situation and the effects are going to evolve,” said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “This survey gives us a general idea of the concerns our businesses were facing as the emergency and significant closings were being implemented. We anticipate doing a similar survey again next week with Oklahoma City companies to understand how they are progressing.”

As of this survey, 10% of respondents said their locations were closed. Another 34% were open with no changes in operation. The majority, 56%, responded that they were open with altered operations or limited hours. A vast majority of respondents are limiting travel or meetings. Less than 25% had not implemented these restrictions.

Many businesses are limiting onsite operations or moving to remote work. Of those surveyed, 25% were still operating normally; 25% limited building access to only their employees; 14% had gone fully remote and 10% were preparing to make changes. Another 25% reported creating a customized solution for their business. One concern for operators is the available resources and technical capability to enable remote work and the reality that many jobs cannot be done remotely. The limited availability of supplies for proper building sanitation is also impacting businesses’ abilities to stay open and operational. Ongoing concerns about childcare and employee issues is another top concern.

Companies have been most impacted by a lack of customer demand and a slow-down in development activities. Other factors include employee availability and supply chain. Only 3% of businesses had seen no change in their environment.

When asked about the factors inhibiting operations, more than a third of respondents indicated that outside of customer behavior, the anticipated school and campus closures are a concern due to the combined impact on workforce or customer demand.

Of the companies surveyed, 80% had lost, or expect to lose business as a result of this emergency. Many estimate revenue declines in the month of March, with an average decline of nearly 40%. The median decline was 30%. Businesses are measuring the impact to their workforce, with almost 19% of respondents expecting to lay off workers, 38% were unsure about future layoffs and 43% of respondents do not anticipate the need to lay off employees at this time.

When asked about support they need, many businesses are looking for a return to normal operations. They’re also seeking financial support to bridge revenue shortfalls.

“It is clear from this survey that this emergency could have a significant impact on our community,” said Williams. “Managers and owners are also concerned about the energy downturn and the impact it is already having on their revenue, so this is a second crisis to manage. We see particular concern in the hospitality sector, which is the fastest-growing segment of the Oklahoma City economy. The information we are learning through this survey and our daily conversations with companies across the region is vital for both our quick response efforts and the medium and long-term response to this situation.”

The Chamber is collecting and developing resources for businesses as they manage this situation, which can be accessed at www.okcchamber/covid19.