Lancashire COVID-19 Business Survey August 2020

Marketing Lancashire set out to measure the post-lockdown business environment across Lancashire’s visitor economy and to understand how best to support businesses as we move forward. Research was carried out between 6-14th August 2020 via means of an online survey and a total of 147 responses were received. A summary of key findings is set out below and the full report can be accessed here.

COVID-19 Business Recovery Survey August 2020

  • Although much of the sector has re-opened, some are still bound by restrictions – weddings, business tourism, events, some indoor attractions e.g soft play with 14% businesses still closed.
  • Around one third of those surveyed were fully reopened; two thirds had only partially reopened (limited hours / staff / numbers).
  • Revenue was significantly down for the majority of businesses (21% stated revenue was down over 90% with a further 19% reporting revenue down between 75-90% and an additional 21% stating revenue was down between 50-75%)
  • Key challenges faced by businesses were implementing COVID-safety measures and social distancing alongside the need to rebuild consumer confidence with many businesses facing increased level of cancellations, postponements and / or refunds.
  • Most businesses were well established with almost two-thirds (61.5%) having operated for over 10 years and a further 20% having operated between 4-10 years. Despite this, many still experienced issues in accessing finance, grants and loans designed to support businesses at this time, with a leading issue being that of eligibility.
  • Just 23% business felt the temporary reduction in VAT would be of benefit to them; 54% felt it would be of no benefit and 23% were unsure.
  • Only 7% businesses were passing this benefit onto customers; a further 63% answered as not applicable and 31% stated they were not passing this benefit on.
  • 65% of those businesses using the CJRS had furloughed over 75% staff.
  • Changes to the CJRS in August meant that 13% of those using the scheme found that it was only affordable for key staff and would have to let others go. 2% of those using the scheme stated they would have to let all staff go.
  • Of those employing seasonal staff, 24% stated that they would no longer be taking any on this year.
  • Advanced bookings – many stated it was too early to say but of those responding, 61% reported advanced bookings Oct – Dec to be significantly down and 42% reported advanced bookings to be significantly down Jan-Mar 2021.
  • However, there was some optimism when looking at estimated timescales for business recovery with almost one third estimating that it would take between 7-12 months and the majority (almost half of businesses) estimating 1-2 years.
  • Leading strategies to help rebuild consumer confidence and business were increased marketing and advertising; use of discounts and offers; targeting new markets and customers.

Main business concerns moving forwards were:

  • Lack of consumer confidence 57%
  • Reduced consumer demand 55%
  • Restrictions on mass gatherings 52%
  • Lack of forward bookings 50%
  • Increased operating costs 46%
  • Restrictions on travel 45%

There is still a clear need to aid business recovery with those in the sector keen to see further initiatives targeting financial aid (grants), extension of the furlough scheme, marketing initiatives and specific support in the event of local lockdown and / or a Test & Trace closure.