Torbay businesses have revealed the real impact of Covid both in financial and people terms.
A special survey carried out by TDA and promoted by the Torbay Business Forum and the three town chambers of commerce across the Bay was carried out.
Responses came from sectors across the economy especially accommodation and food as the tourism and hospitality industry took a real battering from the pandemic lockdowns. Other sectors surveyed included wholesale/ retail, finance and insurance, professional/ scientific/ technical, administrative, education and arts/ entertainment/ recreation.
Between 2019 and 2020 employee numbers decreased for 31 per cent of those surveyed, 64 per cent stayed the same and five per cent increased numbers.
Ten per cent of those surveyed expect staff numbers to decrease in the future; 21 per cent expect numbers to increase; 69 per cent said they will stay the same.
89 per cent of firms said they have adapted to working differently and successfully during the pandemic. 88 per cent of businesses received a Covid-19 related business grant.
Areas of Business Support highlighted were Reaching new customers / markets – 50 per cent; Digital marketing skills – 31 per cent; Becoming a greener business – 21 per cent; Customer service – 22 per cent.
The firms were asked if Brexit had impacted on their business. The results were: 36 per cent – Negative impact; five per cent – Positive impact; 59 per cent – No difference.
They were also asked what would help them in 2021? Answers included place marketing and advertising; Investment in place; a tourism boom; digital support and opportunities; financial help including an extension to VAT and business rate relief; easing of Covid restrictions to enable reopening; and a clarity and consistency from Government
Lingering doubts the future were still evident. 22 per cent said they are ‘very optimistic’ but 16 per cent were ‘not at all optimistic’ and 62 per cent were unsure.