Phase 2, Confcommercio alarm: 28% of the companies restarted fear final closure


Rome, May 31, 2020 – Despite the reopenings, after the lockdown for theCoronavirus emergency, The situation of many traders remains precarious. For 28% of the companies that have reopened, it remains high risk of closing definitively due to the difficult market conditions, the excess of taxes and bureaucracy, the lack of liquidity: this is what emerges from a survey by Confcommercio, in collaboration with Swg, carried out on the first two weeks of reopening for companies in the catering and bars, clothing, other retail and service activities.

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Bars and restaurants: 1 in 4 is closed

Of the nearly 800 thousand trade and market services companies that have been able to restart, exactly two weeks from Phase 2, 82% reopened the business, 94% in clothing and footwear, 86% in other businesses and services and only 73% of bars and restaurants, confirming the serious difficulties of businesses engaged in consumption outside the home; among the support measures obtained, 44% of the companies benefited from indemnities, such as the 600 euro bonus, but the share of those who obtained guaranteed loans or benefited from the redundancy fund is still extremely low; and over half of the companies estimate a loss of revenues ranging from 50 to over 70%.

Anti-Covid protocols and difficulties

The survey data, reports a press release, referring to a universe of 759 thousand companies (mainly micro-enterprises with up to 9 employees), indicate that the fact that openings grow from the first to the second week is certainly favorable, but it constitutes a negative signal, however, that 18% of the companies that could reopen have not yet done so; this percentage rises to 27% in the bar and restaurant area, a figure that testifies to a well-known pathology from which we have not come out at all. The reasons for the failure to reopen mainly concern the adaptation of the premises to health safety protocols. In general, Confcommercio continues, among the companies that have reopened, the management of the sanitization-sanitization protocols and the reorganization of the work spaces have been carried out successfully and without particular difficulties, although in the second week some additional problems emerge compared to the previous week , confirming the impression that the desire to reopen implies, in some cases, an understandable underestimation of some difficulties.

Phase 2 and drop in revenues

The painful notes emerge from the self-assessment of the interviewees on turnover, we read: already in the first week the average of the ratings was well below the sufficiency. In the following week these fears are confirmed: 68% of entrepreneurs declare that revenues for the first two weeks are lower than expected, when the expectations themselves were already quite low. The estimate of revenue losses compared to “normal” periods for more than 60% of the sample is above 50%, with an accentuation of negative judgments in the bar and restaurant area, a segment where losses are concentrated even up to 70%.

Indemnities, layoffs, loans

Access to support measures reflects the problems of micro-enterprises during the lockdown. Compensation (such as the 600 euro bonus) is obviously the most common and 44% of the companies in the total sample would have already benefited from it. The layoffs, on the other hand, appear underutilized due to the distribution of the enterprises by number of employees flattened towards the individual firms. In fact, Confcommercio notes, only two fifths of the micro-enterprises have employees and, therefore, only this fraction would have needed the Cig in derogation. Read in these terms the survey data appears likely (49% accesses the measure and obtained it or has yet to obtain it). Specularly, the use of further loans is predictably rather rarefied. Smaller businesses, having lost for over 2 months almost 100% of the turnover they have no advantage in taking out further loans which should be repaid with a future income whose formation appears to be very uncertain today. It is logical to expect that any greater support through indemnities could also lead to a greater use of loans with public guarantee, because the loss suffered to date would be better offset.

The very uncertain future

Unfortunately, the conclusive assessments are highly negative. So far, in exploring the two investigations, carried out after a week, one emerges significant fluctuation in judgments between the desire to go back to doing business and rather gloomy perceptions on the trend of revenues, the investigation continues, all seasoned by an explicit orientation of companies aimed at smoothing out the impact of difficulties and problems. But if in the first week only 6% of the interviewees indicated a high probability of closing the company, in the second wave of interviews, against a more complex reasoning, 28% of the interviewees said that, in the absence of an improvement in the current business conditions, will assess the definitive closure of the company in the coming months. To corroborate this suggestion, Confcommercio says, concerns arise that in the near future it will have to be anyway apply for a loan (50% of the sample), you will not be able to pay suppliersi (40%) nor to support the fixed costs (43%). One of the most significant problems for individual companies and for the Italian economy as a whole emerges with sufficient clarity: the real question is not to reopen immediately or after a short period of experimentation, but rather the capacity, the possibility , to remain open, that is to achieve a satisfactory economic balance (together with a cash flow that allows to bear at least the fixed costs). From a macroeconomic point of view, the worst has certainly passed. However, warns Confcommercio, for many companies, concentrated in a few sectors starting with the tourism supply chain, the challenges for survival will be fought in the coming months.

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