A survey by the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce showed the impact of Covid isolation rules on small businesses, with more than half of respondents saying they had to close or reduce hours, due to the situation current Covid resulting in staff shortages.
Businesses that play an important role in the local economy are also affected by significant drops in attendance.
The combined impact of these factors is so severe that over 67% of businesses that responded (141 out of 208) now want to see the Covid restrictions lifted.
The survey was carried out by the island’s largest business network to see how customer-facing businesses are faring and assess the impact of the Economic Recovery Group (ERG) decision. ) last month to expand financial support through the Winter Disruption Program.
The Chamber conducts regular surveys to gather feedback from the broader business community.
The latest elicited the biggest response ever to a survey of customer-facing businesses. It covered 10 different sectors.
The results revealed the current level of negative impact from Covid restrictions and the strength of sentiment among companies in the sector.
Here are the main titles of the survey:
More than 52% of customer-facing businesses that participated say they had to close or reduce their opening hours. Just under 16% had to close and just over 36% had to reduce their hours.
More than 62% of respondents saw a drop in sales of at least 25% and more than 17% saw sales drop by more than 50% (these figures are based on a comparison with sales for the same period in 2020 ).
Opinions are divided on how business owners think their customers would feel if all current Covid testing/isolation rules were lifted.
Of the 208 who answered this question, 88 (42%) said they thought customers would be happy to see the rules lifted; 54 (25%) said customers would disagree with this; and there were 66 “don’t know”.
Chamber chief executive Rebecca George thanked all of the businesses that took part and said: ‘The survey has provided some really important and interesting feedback which has been passed directly to the economic stimulus group for consideration.
“This work was instrumental in helping the government make the decision to expand the sectors eligible for funding.
“A new isolation payment has also been launched to provide more financial support for people.
“Customer-facing businesses have started to wonder if the rules around CFT reporting can be relaxed a bit to help business owners and their customers.
“We are delighted that so many people took the time to share data from over 180 micro businesses – this meant we could share this data with ERG on the same day, and we know they took this into account when review of the winter disturbance program.
“The Chamber will continue to ensure small business concerns are addressed, including ongoing activities through our Local Economy Forum.”
The business survey of customers was conducted from January 4-6, with responses from a total of 226 businesses across a wide range of the industry, including hair/beauty, motor trade, gyms/fitness , pet care, hospitality, retail, and food and beverage businesses.
Full survey results are available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/stories/SM-3LW8Q7HQ/
You can find the Local Economy Forum on Facebook.