Export and import businesses see decline in demand, says Open to Export straw poll

Fri 27 Mar 2020
Posted by: Ana Pintor
Trade News

UK businesses canvassed by the Institute of Export & International Trade have reported a decline in business because of COVID-90 - yet have not yet felt the need to access government business support packages.

A majority of import and export businesses (62%) responding to questions from the IoE during a webinar yesterday (Thursday, March 26) reported a decline in demand for their services due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Of nearly 750 attendees tuning in to the IoE’s Covid-19: What you need to know webinar, some 400 responded to the poll. More than a third (35.6%) said they been impacted by staff illnesses while a similar percentage (35%) reported cash flow issues. 

Financial help

In the past two weeks, the UK government has unveiled a £330bn package of economic support, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for SMEs and the Covid Corporate Financing Facility.

Nearly half (47.9%) respondents said they had not yet tried to access these packages, while a third (33.18%) reported they have not needed the support so far.

Only 5.84% have needed the support already and successfully applied, while 13% said they have tried to access it but have not been successful.

Businesses not making the most of government support

“Looking these straw poll results, it’s clear the government has to make sure the procedures for access to support are clear, simple and fiction-free,” said Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade.

“While the government has estimated the peak of the virus to occur in a few weeks, the fall-out from the disruption to the UK economy is yet to fully materialise.”

Supply chain delays

Business people attending the webinar also reported delays in despatching or receiving component parts or goods.

A majority (55%) said they were still able to send and receive them but were experiencing delays.

More than a third (36.6%) were not experiencing delays while a minority (8%) said they had not been able to send or receive items at all.