COVID-19: Four in ten businesses feel that they cannot continue to operate

Media release                                                                                               21 April 2020

 COVID-19: Four in ten businesses feel that they cannot continue to operate

 The results of a rapid response survey conducted by Stats SA during the lockdown was released today. Businesses were asked how the current crisis affected their operations in the two-week period from 30 March to 13 April 2020. 707 businesses in the formal sector responded to the survey, outlining the pandemic’s impact on turnover, trading, workforce, imports and exports, purchases, prices, and business survival.

According to the report, five in six businesses surveyed experienced a drop in turnover over the reference period. 85,4% of businesses surveyed reported turnover below the normal range. Respondents in the construction, real estate and other business services, and transport industries were the most affected by lower than expected turnover.

The report further shows that 42,2% of respondents indicated that they are not confident that they have the financial resources to continue operating through the COVID-19 outbreak. When asked how long business can continue without turnover, 54,0% of respondents indicated that can survive without turnover between 1 to 3 months.

Half of the businesses surveyed have temporarily closed their doors: the industries reporting the highest percentages of temporary closure or paused trading activity were construction, manufacturing, trade and mining.

In terms of workforce size, 50,4% of respondents expected no change, while 36,8% anticipate a decline. Respondents indicated that they have implemented a range of measures to cope with the impact of the pandemic on their workforce, including decreasing working hours and laying off staff in the short term. Only about one in four businesses indicated that they had not taken any measures yet.

Most businesses (65,0%) anticipate that the COVID-19 pandemic will impact their business substantially worse than the 2008/09 global financial crisis. Only 4,3% of respondents indicated that the impact will be the same.

Editor’s Note

 Please keep the following in mind when interpreting the results from the survey. Micro businesses (with an annual turnover below R2 million) were not included in the survey, results are based on the perceptions of respondents, and interpretation is based on limited responses.

The complete report is available here

For a monthly overview of economic indicators and infographics, catch the latest edition of the Stats Biz newsletter here.

Stats SA is not immune to the impact of the extended lockdown. For more information on how the lockdown is impacting the publication of economic statistics, click here.


Issued by Statistics South Africa


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