The results from the first Business Impact Survey to measure the emerging impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the Central Florida business community revealed 74 percent of companies are feeling negative impacts from the crisis.
Results are in from the first Business Impact Survey conducted by the Orlando Economic Partnership to measure the emerging impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the Central Florida business community. The survey revealed that 74 percent of companies are feeling negative impacts from the crisis. Overall, 76 percent of businesses surveyed are experiencing some form of decline in profits.
Lost sales and an unstable or risky business environment have been the largest signals to Central Florida’s businesses that the market is in decline. In an anonymous, open-ended question, respondents often indicated that consumer fear, hiring freezes, contract cancelations and the shuttering of the event industry have signaled further decline.
Lost sales and negative cash flow from delayed sales were deemed the most significant threats to operations with 68 and 63 percent of respondents selecting these indicators. But understanding the cash position of Central Florida businesses and the strategies they are taking to cope gives further insight into how this pandemic will play out on the Orlando economy.
Approximately 39 percent of the total businesses surveyed have cash to maintain operations for eight weeks or less, with a small percentage (3.2 percent) noting that they have already exhausted cash reserves. This number becomes more extreme breaking down the respondents by business size and type.
Of small businesses (2-99 employees) surveyed, 49 percent only have eight weeks or less cash on hand. This number jumps to 67 and 65 percent for companies who indicated they are Hispanic/racial minority owned or women owned, respectively. More than 11 percent of the Hispanic or racial minority owned businesses surveyed indicated that they have already exhausted cash reserves.
Combined, very small businesses (2-10 employees) and small-medium enterprises (11-99 employees) account for roughly two-thirds of all employment in Orlando, making the strategy of small business response and support crucial for mitigating the impacts of this crisis. Overall, 64 percent of the small businesses surveyed so far indicated that they have either reduced hours or taken on layoffs in response to economic impacts.
Respondents also revealed in open-ended responses that efficiently shifting to remote work and reinventing product offerings for the web have been important first-step strategies. Some small businesses and sole proprietorships indicated that they are investing in marketing and communication now to position themselves in the best way for recovery once social distancing policies are lifted.
In an effort to support these undertakings, the Orlando Economic Partnership has launched a business resource center with information on policy, research, and funding resources and started a social media campaign, challenging residents to #PickUpOrlando and support local business wherever possible.
The next phase of the survey will open for responses on April 9 and will track the changing impacts of this crisis. You can take the survey and find a dashboard of results on the research page of the Covid-19 resource center.