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2020/05/19

A Third of Businesses Fighting for Survival

For Immediate Release

Almost one third (31%) of businesses surveyed by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) worry they will only be able to survive for up to six months in the current Covid-19 recession. While 16% of those said they could survive for 5-6 months, 12% of respondents said they could only last for another 3-4 months.

The survey of HKGCC members on how the coronavirus is impacting businesses, conducted between 4-8 May, also found that a combined 86% of the 352 respondents said their business activities in Hong Kong had either been significantly (48%) or moderately disrupted (38%) by Covid-19.

“Businesses are going through an extremely difficult period: 43% of respondents said their turnover had dropped by half, and one in every eight said it had fallen by 90% or more,” said HKGCC Chairman Peter Wong. “Hong Kong is strong and resilient, but our business community needs continuing help to get through this.”

To ease liquidity shortages, respondents said they had negotiated with landlords and banks to work out more favourable lease and financing terms, reduced spending on investment. To avoid laying off staff, 33% of respondents said they had had to reduce employees’ working hours or asked staff to take unpaid leave (26%).

“No one wants to see mass layoffs and people losing their livelihoods, so it is essential that the Government’s Employment Support Scheme and other Covid-19 support measures reach businesses as soon as possible,” said HKGCC’s Legco Representative Jeffrey Lam. “The Chamber has been reiterating to the Government the difficulties that businesses are now facing and the pressing need for the money to reach businesses.”

Among the relief measures rolled out by the Government, respondents said the Employment Support Scheme, which helps employers pay a portion of wage bills, was considered to be the most useful relief measure.

The uncertainty arising from how long COVID-19 will last was the most important concern for businesses, followed by cash flow and being loss-making.

“Government assistance is having an impact, and it is encouraging to see that policymakers are committed to keeping it flowing. Every business we can save will strengthen our ability to bounce back from the crisis,” added Wong. “Businesses are pessimistic about the recovery -- 31% are expecting an L-shaped recovery – but in the long term Asia, with Hong Kong at its heart, has both demographics and dynamism on its side.”


About the survey
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce’s “Impact of COVID-19 on Business Operations Survey,” conducted from 4 to 8 May 2020, received a total of 352 responses, of which 25% came from professional and business services sector, and 18% from the trading sector. 55% of respondents were SMEs, employing less than 50 staff.


Charts for the survey can be downloaded here.

 

 


Media inquiries: Please contact Mr Charles Chung at 2823 1278 / charles@chamber.org.hk

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