NJBIA survey: No surprise, businesses hurt by coronavirus; many said they will need to cut costs, staff

A survey conducted by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association found that 93% of members who responded either are already negatively impacted by the coronavirus health crisis or anticipate being negatively impacted in the near future.

And these answers came before Gov. Phil Murphy announced more restrictions Monday.

Most respondents said they will need to cut costs due to coronavirus-related hardships, including a reduction of staff, hours, benefits and other remedies.

When asked to what extent has their business been negatively impacted by the coronavirus:

  • 54% said they have already been negatively impacted;
  • 39% said they anticipate being negatively impacted in the near future;
  • 7% said they do not anticipate being negatively impacted.

When asked how they will respond to the negative business impacts caused by the coronavirus (respondents could select any or all options that applied):

  • 40% said they will need to reduce staff;
  • 37% said they will need to reduce employee hours;
  • 12% said they will need to reduce benefits;
  • 24% said they will do nothing.

Another 37% listed “other” additional remedies to accommodate the impacts, including: needing to temporarily close; relying on personal savings and credit to pay bills; negotiating with vendors, landlords and utility companies; adjusting service levels; reducing expenses; increasing spending on cleaning and disinfecting; increasing remote working.

In separate questions, a majority of respondents said they were unsure, at this juncture, whether they would need gap loans or waivers of workplace compliance requirements due to the fiscal impacts brought on by the response to the coronavirus.

Michele Siekerka, the CEO of the NJBIA, said she was not surprised by the findings.

“The concerns of our members are extremely clear during this unprecedented time,” she said. “They are highly concerned about the overall stability of their businesses and the welfare of their employees.”

The survey also asked members to explain what the most critical issues to their business are as the association works with policymakers and state agencies on responses to address the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

A few notable entries from the hundreds of responses included:

  • “Trying to keep up with payroll, taxes, health ins., vehicle ins., fuel, worker’s comp ins., vehicle payments, vehicle registrations and all state-associated fees with licenses and registrations. If we can’t access the customer’s property and/or an employee gets the illness, this will put us out of business.”
  • “Besides health of employees, worry about supply chain interruptions. If, say, UPS goes down, how will I deliver products? What if my suppliers are closed?”
  • “Unable to provide home-based services as usual.”
  • “Business customers and my employees being able to work if kids are home from school.”
  • “Personal protective equipment for my team of health care workers. We can’t get level 3 masks right now.”
  • “Cash flow if sales decline.”
  • “The phone has stopped ringing; people are not spending money.”
  • “Access to short-term financing.”
  • “As a supplier of printed material for many local N.J. businesses, we are expecting a significant loss of revenue due to cancellations of events, trade shows, etc.”

These survey results were fielded from 336 respondents from March 13-15. The NJBIA said it will keep the survey open to its members to acquire additional input.

“We want to ensure that we are relaying these impacts in real time and working with our members and all levels of state government to bring the assistance needed to secure New Jersey’s workforce and economy,” Siekerka said. “We also continue to update our comprehensive resource page at www.njbia.org/coronavirus.”

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