More than a third of South African businesses plan to cut jobs because of the coronavirus: survey

StatsSA has published the results of a new survey focusing on how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the operations of South African businesses.

A total of 707 businesses in the formal sector responded to the survey in the two-week period from 30 March to 13 April 2020, outlining the pandemic’s impact on turnover, trading, workforce, imports and exports, purchases, prices, and business survival.

Asked how their workforce size might change over the two weeks following the reference period, 50.4% of respondents expected no change, while 36.8% expected their workforce size to decline.

Businesses indicated that they have implemented a range of measures to cope with the impact of the pandemic on their workforce, including decreasing working hours (28.3% of respondents) and laying off staff in the short term (19.6% of respondents).

Only about one in four businesses indicated that they had not taken any measures yet.

More than four in ten businesses feel that they cannot continue to operate. When asked about financial resources, 42.2% of respondents indicated that they are not confident that they have the financial resources to continue operating through the Covid-19 outbreak.

When asked how long business can continue without turnover, 54% of respondents indicated that they can survive without turnover between one to three months.

The data also shows that almost half of responding businesses have temporarily closed their doors.  The industries reporting the highest percentages of temporary closure or paused trading activity were construction, manufacturing, trade and mining.


When asked whether turnover was within its normal range in the period 30 March – 13 April 2020, 85.4% of respondents surveyed reported turnover below the normal range.

Respondents in the construction, real estate and other business services, and transport industries were the most affected by lower than expected turnover.

Notably, almost two-thirds of businesses feel that this will be worse than the 2008/09 recession. Many businesses (65.0%) anticipate that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will substantially be worse than the 2008/09 global financial crisis.

Only 4.3% of respondents indicated that the impact will or could be the same.

Read: Here is the latest updated list of all the essential goods and services during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown

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More than a third of South African businesses plan to cut jobs because of the coronavirus: survey