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Companies report sales, revenue declines related to COVID measures

Chamber of Commerce, Statistics Canada business conditions survey shows almost 81% have sustained medium to high drop in demand.

April 30, 2020   by PLANT STAFF

Most manufacturers report declines in revenues.
Photo: Getty Images

OTTAWACOVID-19’s impact on Canadian businesses has been measured by a jointly run survey between Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the picture it paints is not pretty, but it shows many companies are finding ways to adapt.

The Canadian Survey of Business Conditions (CSBC) that provides insights from 13,000 companies shows how they’re succeeding or failing and the time time pressures they face to avoid closing their doors permanently.

For example, what kind of cash buffer did companies have going into the crisis? More than 42% said they couldn’t operate longer than 60 days without a source of revenue, while 51% were okay for 90 days. Most manufacturers (almost 42%) said they could operate more than six months.

Most companies (almost 81%) have experienced a medium to high drop in demand for services or products. Most (more than 71%) experienced a revenue drop in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2019 and more than half of those said the decline was more than 20%. More than 21% said revenues dropped between 20% and 40%. More than 10% saw an increase and more than 14% saw no change.

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Most manufacturers (87%) report declines in revenues. Almost 21% saw revenue decline between 1% and less than 20%; more than 24% reported a decline between 20% and less than 40%; and more than 21% were short between 40% and more than 50%.

With social distancing measures in place, more than 17% said they could not remain open; more than 22% could open for no longer than three months; almost 12% could handle between three and six months; and 32% could continue operating past six months.

Staffing has taken a hit: 38% have reduced hours or shifts and almost 41% have laid off staff.

More than 29% of manufacturers laid off 80% or more of their staff in March, while more than half said layoffs affect 1% or less. Almost 6% reported 100% staff layoffs.

The survey also shows how businesses have adapted to emergency measures. Almost 18% have altered methods of production;more than 35% have altered products or services offered; more than 45% are using new methods to interact with customers; almost 45% are testing working from home; almost 12% are testing e-commerce; almost 11% are trying new staff training; and more than 62% say they can return to a state of normal operations within one month of social distancing measures being removed.

“The data clearly shows clearly thousands of businesses are quickly approaching permanent closures,” said Trevin Stratton, chief economist at the Canadian Chamber. “…Countless companies can still be saved if we move fast enough to help them. Policy measures like the wage subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account will certainly help many businesses, but we’re on the clock to get money into the hands of all businesses that need support.”

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