Entrepreneurs less concerned about business continuity

© Hollandse Hoogte / Laurens van Putten
The number of entrepreneurs in virtually all non-financial industries who estimate their business will continue to exist for at least another 12 months in the current economic situation increased dramatically between April and May, according to a second survey. New working procedures involving the so-called ‘1.5 metre economy’ and cost reductions are among the most important measures which companies have taken themselves to combat the effects of an economic downturn due to coronavirus. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of a survey which was held among businesses at the beginning of May about the anticipated consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

The increasing confidence in business survival through the coronavirus crisis is mainly evident from the fact that fewer businesses were still expecting no more than 6 months of continuity as they stated in April under the circumstances then applicable. This is likely due to the relaxation of coronavirus-related measures. Further relaxation of the measures was announced on 6 May, when nearly 60 percent of entrepreneurs had already responded to the survey.
The improvement in terms of at least one year continuity which was seen in May as compared to April was most significant in retail trade. In April, 9 percent of retail businesses were positive about one year continuity; this had gone up to 65 percent in May. Likewise, confidence was clearly up in IT services (+48 percentage points) as well as cleaning and similar services (+46 percentage points) according to the measurement in May relative to April. In May, the lowest confidence scores regarding 12 months continuity were seen in aviation (2 percent), gambling and betting companies (including lotteries) (6 percent) and the travel industry (10 percent).

Business continuity amid a protracted COVID-19 crisis
BedrijfstakMaandMaximum 12 months (% of entrepreneurs)12 months or longer (% of entrepreneurs)Hard to say (% of entrepreneurs)
Retail tradeMay13.065.221.8
Retail tradeApril39.79.450.9
Automotive trade and repairMay35.343.421.3
Automotive trade and repairApril75.75.019.4
Real estate activitiesMay9.575.415.0
Real estate activitiesApril25.739.734.6
Business servicesMay28.541.430.1
Business servicesApril60.99.130.0
Transport and storageMay19.545.634.9
Transport and storageApril44.418.237.4
Culture, sports and recreationMay51.723.824.5
Culture, sports and recreationApril71.44.324.3
Accommodation and food servicesMay53.221.625.2
Accommodation and food servicesApril75.35.019.6

Main actions

In May, implementation of the 1.5 metre economy and cost reductions were the most frequently cited measures entrepreneurs took to ward off the effects of the economic downturn due to the coronavirus crisis. At over 84 percent, the 1.5 metre measure was mentioned relatively most often by all branches of the telecommunications industry. Cost reductions were the most frequently mentioned action among the travel industry (62 percent) and aviation industry (50 percent). Innovation and development of new products and services were also mentioned fairly often by companies in aviation (46 percent), by libraries and museums (22 percent), in art (20 percent) and in the IT and information services industry (17 percent).

Measures taken amid the COVID-19 crisis, May 2020
Bedrijfstakken1.5 metre rule implementation in operations and methods (% of entrepreneurs)Heightened price competition/other markets (% of entrepreneurs)Cost reduction (% of entrepreneurs)Product/service adaptation (e.g. quality, delivery) (% of entrepreneurs)Innovation/development of new products/services/processes (% of entrepreneurs)Other markets/target groups (% of entrepreneurs)None; measures (still) considered unnecessary by the company (% of entrepreneurs)
Automotive trade and repair46.36.436.
Retail trade (excl. automotive)
Transport and storage38.
Accommodation and food services44.72.928.411.
Real estate activities51.
Business services38.13.328.16.712.13.48.3
Culture, sports and recreation43.

Fewer self-employed and temporary contract workers in many industries

As for staff deployment during the coronavirus crisis, entrepreneurs in a large number of industries typically mentioned reducing the hiring of self-employed and temporary staff. Other measures mentioned by many industries included reducing staff working hours and/or the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (NOW) for their own staff. Terminating the employment contracts of own personnel was given relatively little consideration. Reducing the number of self-employed and temporary staff was cited relatively often (43 percent) by libraries and museums. The same applied to cleaning companies and road transport companies (both 37 percent) as well as radio and television broadcast companies (36 percent). Applications for reduced working hours and NOW were relatively more common in aviation (50 percent of all companies) and accommodation and food services (48 percent).

Deployment of staff amid the COVID-19 crisis, May 2020
Bedrijfstakken/branches (SBI 2008)Less deployment of self-employed and temporary workers due to lower business activity (% of entrepreneurs)More deployment of self-employed and temporary workers (to replace employees on sick leave) (% of entrepreneurs)All or most of the staff working from home (% of entrepreneurs)Most staff unable to work from home due to type of work (% of entrepreneurs)Applications for NOW and reduced working hours for part of the staff (% of entrepreneurs)Employment contract extinguished for all or part of staff (% of entrepreneurs)Situation unchanged (% of entrepreneurs)
Automotive trade and repair15.30.010.334.530.52.47.0
Retail trade (excl. automotive)
Transport and storage26.85.110.828.921.80.56.0
Accommodation and food services15.
Real estate activities14.70.054.411.15.40.613.7
Business services23.50.436.915.
Culture, sports and recreation29.60.014.417.735.31.51.5