17 Apr 2020

More than 81 per cent of respondents to a recent survey of Canterbury businesses are reporting significant financial impacts from COVID-19.

The data was gathered as part of a survey distributed to local businesses in early April by ChristchurchNZ and economic development agencies.

The survey was sent to more than 4000 businesses and attracted 447 responses. It was commissioned in order to better understand the regional impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, across different industries, and ensure support was focused appropriately.

Cashflow and finance were the most challenging areas for respondents, with 81 per cent citing significant negative impact.

The next most significantly impacted areas were the domestic market and domestic customers (71 per cent) followed by staffing (61 per cent), and production levels (57 per cent).

While respondents thought pressures on these areas would ease slightly once lockdown was over, challenges would remain for many over the next three months.

As lock-down enters the third week, nearly half of all respondents stated their employees were unable to work. Only four per cent had all staff working as an essential service.

If lock-down were to continue past four weeks, respondents expecting significant negative financial impact rose to 87 per cent, with further negative impact expected on employee wellbeing (67 per cent, up from current 30 per cent of respondents citing it to date).  

The bulk of businesses asked for further financial support: Wage support/subsidies, cashflow support, lease holidays or other rent support.

Other support asked for included business advice, tax relief, marketing support, and funding for R&D.

“The need for on-going financial support and advice for business is essential and moving to Alert Level 3 where we can increase our economic activity in a safe environment, will certainly help those businesses who have been unable to bring in any income over the lockdown period,’’ says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

“Of course, there are still many businesses who are not able to operate to full capacity, if at all in Alert Level 3 who will require further Government support and intervention to ensure their long-term survival,’’ Ms Watson said.

ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive Joanna Norris said the results of this survey illustrated the importance of supporting local businesses.  ChristchurchNZ was committed to supporting local businesses through tangible action.

Details of a Christchurch economic recovery package were outlined to Christchurch City Council last week by Ms Norris and Council Chief Executive Dawn Baxendale.

As part of that package, ChristchurchNZ is funding a new Business Support Subsidy package worth $200,000 to help businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The Council is also offering impacted businesses a rates deferment of up to six months.