Friday, April 3, 2020
The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber released results from its second point-in-time survey of the business impact from the COVID 19 pandemic. The survey was implemented during a 24-hour period beginning at noon on Monday, March 30 and ending at noon on Tuesday, March 31.
A total of 330 people responded to the survey. The first survey was sent March 17-19, and the transition for business during this period was evident in the results.
“The information we are learning through these surveys has been vital to informing an effective response for our community,” said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “It is clear from the survey that as the pandemic continues, the impact to business continues to increase.”
As of this survey, a higher percentage of businesses, nearly 62% or 213 of the respondents, are working remotely or with altered operations. The number of businesses operating with no changes in their operations dropped from 34% in the last survey to only 21% of businesses now. Less than 9%, or 30 of the businesses surveyed, had stopped all operations. Another 8% were limiting hours.
More than two-thirds of those responded that consumer demand is having the greatest impact on their business, followed by the slow-down in development activities. Availability of materials and employees, as well as the challenges of technology and the shift to remote work are also factors.
Of the companies surveyed, 88% had lost, or expect to lose business as a result of this emergency. That number was up 8% from the last survey. Many estimate revenue declines in the month of March, with an average estimated decline of nearly 45%, up 5% from the previous survey.
Businesses are measuring the impact to their workforce, with an increase in the number of businesses considering a reduction in force. In this new survey, the number of respondents expecting to lay off workers increased from 19% to 25%, and 38% remain unsure about future layoffs, similar to the initial survey. Of those who provided a number of their reductions, they indicated a combined loss of 3,100 jobs.
When asked about the assistance businesses need right now, money and funding streams dominate the responses. Employers express a strong desire to keep and support their employees and are looking for ways to continue their business operations effectively and safely. Many respondents are looking for technical support and safety supplies in addition to their need for financial support and regular business activity.
Of the 330 companies who responded to the survey, nearly half were in the process of applying for an emergency loan through the Small Business Administration, with another 35 companies already completing the process. Many respondents expressed concern about the process and need for more information to complete their application. Businesses also said they were looking at other sources of funding, including their personal savings, bank loans and credit card debt to maintain operations. Many businesses are relying on reserves and cash on hand.
When asked about support they need, many proprietors are looking for a return to normal operations. They’re also seeking financial support to bridge revenue shortfalls.
“These surveys are providing real, just-in-time insight for us to provide programming and support to our business community,” said Williams. “The City’s response with the OKC Small Business Continuity Program is on target for addressing both financial concerns and companies’ need for technical support.”
The Chamber will conduct another survey the week of April 13. To learn more about the OKC Small Business Continuity program, visit www.okcsmallbizhelp.com. For more resources for businesses as they manage this situation, visit www.okcchamber/covid19.