Consumer concerns about the risks posed by Covid 19 are still affecting many businesses in the retail, lifestyle and hospitality sectors.
That’s one of the headlines in a Chamber of Commerce survey carried out in the first week in August which gathered the views of 49 of its members who operate in those sectors.
Chamber says the results also confirm the ‘summer slump’ predicted in the recent review carried out by PwC on behalf of the Department for Enterprise into the Island’s hospitality sector because a large number of residents have left the Island at a time when visitor numbers are restricted by border controls and event cancellations.
Chamber CEO Rebecca George said: “A key concern expressed in the survey is the lack of consumer confidence to go out, and the impact that is continuing to have on businesses in these service sectors. Many respondents commented that they feel Government is not doing enough to address this issue which affects retail, lifestyle and hospitality more than it does most other sectors because of the challenges of social distancing. With so many people working from home again, Douglas businesses are experiencing more downward pressure and sales slumped between the end of June and July, and they are only recovering in limited areas. Businesses are also being affected by staff shortages with only 56% of respondents saying that they are fully staffed.”
Government announcements about the number of cases and deaths was, according to many survey respondents, exacerbating fears among the general public. When asked if staff and customers wearing masks while on their premises was increasing consumer confidence, a majority of respondents (58.9%) said it did not.
Government is offering help via the Coronavirus Business Support Scheme, but in the Chamber survey over three quarters (77.5%) of retail, lifestyle and hospitality businesses said they had not applied for it. When asked why they hadn’t applied 65.3% said they didn’t think their business qualified, and 30.7% said it was because they weren’t aware of the scheme.
Chamber is carrying out a series of surveys to gather the opinions of the business community. It’s part of a broader strategy – based on Chamber’s Business Manifesto – which aims to ensure that business and economic concerns are considered by every voter and prospective MHK as the Island counts down the days to the General Election.