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Impact of Coronavirus on Greater Exeter business: Survey results released

By December 2, 2020January 26th, 2021Coronavirus COVID-19, Surveys, Why Exeter blog

Exeter Chamber of Commerce publishes latest business survey results

  • 99% of surveyed businesses reported that they continue to be impacted by COVID-19. Of those, 55% reported the effects as severe, down 12% from a similar survey carried out in April where 67% reported severe effects. 
  • Home working represents one of the major changes for business with 65% of respondents reporting a shift to home working

Over 300 business owners have responded to a survey jointly run by Exeter Chamber of Commerce and Exeter City Council.  The survey, completed during the second lockdown, has shown that 99% of businesses are still experiencing some impact on business as a result of COVID-19.  For 55% of businesses this impact continues to be severe, albeit this represents a shift from 67% previously reporting severe impact earlier this year.     Of those surveyed 42% of businesses were from the retail and hospitality sector, including shops, bars, restaurants and leisure, one of the sectors still facing major restrictions even as we enter the nationwide tiered level of restrictions.

Factors most impacting business owners included decreased sales, bookings, and demand for services, with almost half (45%) of respondents also reporting that cashflow was a major concern.

Businesses continue to make use of the furlough scheme to protect their business, with 58% of respondents having furloughed employees. Almost half of businesses have reduced operational hours (46%) and 40% have adapted to more flexible working.

Businesses were also asked about where their staff are currently based. 66% of respondents reported that their staff are not based in the workplace premises with 24% reporting that their staff are doing a combination of working from home and in the workplace premises.  

The survey also asked businesses that if current restrictions were to continue, how long they would be able to keep operating for. A fifth said that they would be able to continue indefinitely however almost a quarter (23%) of respondents answered they would only be able to continue operating for between 3 and 6 months. 19% said they could operate between 6 and 12 months.

Tim Wadsworth, Exeter Chamber board director commented “Further support is needed for businesses to survive for the next 6 months at least and beyond, particularly as we see how the vaccination programme is rolled out

“Unfortunately, some businesses are still falling between the gaps in the support packages on offer and while we emerge from the second national lockdown trading restrictions for hospitality sector businesses in particular will continue to be extremely difficult under Tier 2.” 

“Furthermore, with still no deal regarding Brexit, businesses in all sectors continue to face unequalled levels of uncertainty.”

Cllr Ollie Pearson, Lead Councillor for City Centre & Corporate Services, said: “This is a very important business survey, to understand how restrictions are effecting businesses within the city, with a quarter adjusting their business model in order to survive for the long term.  A number of new business grants are being launched during December to support a wide range of businesses in the city, we urge businesses to apply.”

To see the full survey results, visit: