10% of businesses may not last three months, per latest UW-Oshkosh survey

Coronavirus

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – A recent survey of Wisconsin businesses by the University of Oshkosh shows that over 40 percent of respondents indicated that they have introduced or expanded online services over the last three months.

“The survey results illustrate a business community that is reopening. Like any economic shock or natural disaster, the early days of this process have brought a reassessment of conditions and plans to move forward,” said Jeffrey Sachse, director of UWO’s Center for Customized Research and Services (CCRS). Responding businesses have proven extremely resilient but challenges remain in tourism-driven and customer-facing industries.”

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This is the third in a series of monthly impact surveys being conducted by UWO in partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, New North, and eight other Regional Leadership Council organizations to assess COVID-19 recovery ability and state and federal aid efforts.

The latest results show that 60 percent of respondents have requested financial assistance amid the coronavirus crisis and just over 52 percent saying they’ve received aid. Survey results also show that only 10 percent of respondents estimate their business won’t survive the next three months, down from over 30 percent in April.

“Estimates of business survivability increased, with only 10% of respondents estimating survivability of less than three months,” Sachse said. “It will be important to continue to assess this measure throughout the summer as many businesses continue to operate with significant restrictions.”

In this round of surveying, only 744 businesses responded, largely down from 1,126 in May and 2,424 in April. Sachse attributes the decline in participation to two related issues.

“We noted a strong correlation among businesses that reported low survivability and nonresponse in the May survey results. This trend continued this month,” he said. “Similarly, the survey period of June 1-13 correlates with the beginning of the summer tourism season and comes three weeks after the reopening of the state. A decrease in response was anticipated as business owners continue the process of resuming operations.”

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Responding businesses reported $22.2 million in income losses in May as well as $6.4 million in losses in inventory. Other reported losses include $13.7 million in wages and productivity, $37.8 million in other economic factors, and over 2,600 positions. Researchers say that these losses marks a decrease from previous months.

“The inventory loss estimate is especially notable as it represents a 67% decrease when reported on a per firm basis,” Sachse said. Income losses are 58 percent lower than May estimates on a per firm basis, but only 15 percent below April estimates.

“It is important to note that May activity more closely resembles March in that businesses were able to operate more fully in roughly half of each month,” Sachse said.

The June survey shows responding firms reported being open for business. Fourteen percent said they needed additional resources to do so or decided not to open. Among respondents, about five percent said they hired staff over the previous month.

Many of those responding to the survey also say they expect the losses due to COVID-19 will continue through the rest of the year. Several say that losses are just beginning to appear.

The results are estimated from self-reported data and are subject to a 3 percent margin of error, according to researchers. The CCRS research will continue as the fourth iteration of the survey will be sent to responding businesses and partner organizations from July 1 to 12.

The July survey results will present a clearer picture of business in this “new normal,” Sachse said.

For a more detailed look at this survey, as well as a county-by-county breakdown of the data, visit UWO’s website.

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