There are some early signs of positivity in marketing, with revenues starting to return, but difficult decisions lie ahead about retaining staff to ensure organisations make it through the pandemic period, according to new research.
The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) has published the results of its fifth ‘Coronavirus – The Impact on Business’ survey revealing the first signs of recovery. about job retention. But despite these early indications concerns about difficult staffing decisions in the coming months also see a significant increase.
Data and marketing professionals estimate their trading revenues improved from down 44% in June to down 34% in July. While being down by a third is still a long way from normal trading, it will be welcomed by many who responded voicing their concerns about the future of their businesses.
This increase in revenues is also reflective of the gradual, but continued, return of ‘Business as usual’ capacity many are seeing, now at 68% in July – up from 53% at the start of lockdown. Despite these very early signs of recovery, concerns about the impact on businesses has remained high and the number of businesses applying for the UK Government’s ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ has increased markedly i – up from 9% to 16% month-on-month. Additionally, 23% of companies believe they will only be able to continue trading for six months or less.
“According to our barometer of data and marketing businesses, concerns remain high about the future. Despite early signs that revenues might be returning, this is still markedly down on pre-pandemic levels,” says Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA. “In these difficult financial times for many businesses, these latest figures suggest difficult decisions for many in the coming months, particularly when it comes to staffing. So, it’s also encouraging to see many utilising the government schemes on offer to help avoid redundancies as much as possible.”
Difficult decisions ahead
Organisations surveyed in July reported a significant increase in those believing they definitely will or have already had to make staffing changes amid the pandemic. Businesses that have or expect to not retain freelance or short-term staff increased to 44%, from 33% in the previous phase from June.
More concerning is the rising number of organisations surveyed that have already or believe they’ll definitely need to make permanent staff redundant in the coming months. This has increased significantly from around a quarter of organisations (25% in June) to a third (32% in June).
Businesses are, however, still clearly trying to avoid this outcome, with many continuing to use the government’s Job Retention Scheme (58%) and one in four hoping take advantage of the recently announced Job Retention Bonus (25%).
The ‘Coronavirus: July 2020 – The Impacts on Business’ is part of an ongoing monthly study undertaken by the DMA. The research was conducted via an online survey by the DMA of UK data and marketing industry professionals. This fourth publication was fielded from 18th July-3rd August and consists of 63 responses to the maximum of 25 questions.