Firms on the floor as survey reveals true extent of coronavirus’ impact on the economy

Jul 02, 2020

by ANDREW GIBBS e: news@businessmk.co.uk

“THERE is no good news in the latest Quarterly Economic Survey. By every measurable metric, businesses in Milton Keynes are suffering, not unexpectedly, from the onset of Covid-19.”

The words of Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce’s interim chief executive Louise Ward as the Chamber unveiled the results of its QES for the second quarter of the year.

82% of businesses reported a decrease in sales – only 6% saw sales increase. None reported an increase in domestic orders and 88% reported a drop. Overseas activity plummeted, with net foreign sales falling from +9% in Q1 to -72% in Q2.

More than a quarter of businesses have reduced their workforce in the past three months. Many are experiencing cashflow issues caused by the pandemic and capital investment has surged into negative territory.

Business confidence has also suffered with 58% expecting their turnover to reduce in the next 12 months. A similar number forecast that their profitability will fall.

Louise Wall, interim CEO of Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce.

The survey, taken between May 18 and June 8, is an important snapshot of the performance and concerns of the business community in Milton Keynes. The findings were in stark contrast to the optimistic note revealed in Q1’s results.

“The business environment is clearly one of the most difficult in living memory,” said Ms Wall. “However, I believe that the results of this survey are hugely important both in comparison with previous quarters and as we look forward to any future economic recovery.”

As the true scale of the impact Covid-19 has had on the economy is revealed, it is vital businesses turn to the Chamber for support, as they have been doing throughout this crisis, she added. With lockdown gradually easing and relief measures adapting to business needs, it is hopeful that Q2 will prove to be the low point from which industry starts to bounce back.

“Although we cannot predict the future and we must remain vigilant against the possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus, the very beginnings of measures easing the lockdown are coming into place,” Ms Wall said. 

“In the coming weeks firms will hopefully be able to turn their minds from just surviving towards stabilising and finally growing again. Now more than ever the Milton Keynes Chamber will champion and represent the voice of local business.”

The QES report also called for further government action. “Over the coming months, further action will be needed to limit the long-term economic damage and kickstart a recovery,” it concluded.

Read the full QES report here.

For further information contact Milton Keynes Chamber on 01908 547820 or email policy@chambermk.co.uk

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