Pacific businesses adjusting to COVID-19, but survival confidence level drops: Survey

Pacific businesses are adjusting to the impacts of COVID-19, but are losing confidence in their surviving the crisis, according to Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) latest survey.

Released recently, PTI’s Survey 11 showed that in terms of coping with the severity of impact, 79% of businesses reported a negative impact, down from 84% in the previous survey in January.

However, when asked whether their businesses will survive beyond the pandemic crisis, 68% said they were confident compared to 75% in the previous survey, a trend that also rings true for the Fiji-based businesses that were surveyed.

Fiji businesses reported a slight improvement in terms of the severity of the impact at 94% from 95% last month, however, all reported a decline in revenue – with 81% reporting a significant decline and 19%, a slight decline. In the January survey, 95% of Fiji businesses that were surveyed reported decreased revenue.

According to the latest survey, business survival confidence levels have also decreased, with only 44% stated that they were confident that their businesses will survive the crisis. This is a reduction from 61% recorded in the January survey.

Collectively, women-led businesses across the region were most vulnerable to the pandemic compared to those led by men. Out of the 127 businesses surveyed in the February edition across the Pacific, 54 were female-led. At the time of the survey between 1 and 14 February 2021, six per cent of female-businesses had permanently closed compared to 1% of male-led businesses. Consistent from the previous survey was the lack of support towards women vendors compared to their male counterparts – lack of finance/cash flow, and lack of government support to allow them to action initiatives that could have made the difference in their business survival.

According to the survey, in order of challenges faced by businesses, not knowing how long the crisis will last ranks as the biggest concern for Pacific companies, followed by the impacts of closed international borders then poor cash flow. The top four initiatives businesses require assistance with include financial support, review financial position, diversify business and access to new markets.

The report is the latest in a series of surveys carried out by PTI, since May 2020, to understand the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the Pacific’s private sector “to provide governments, donors and stakeholders with valuable data on how businesses in the region are coping.”

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