New ASA COVID-19 survey shows member company reactions to pandemic
Government assistance, workforce reduction and length of time before pre-COVID 19 conditions return among many topics broached.
The American Supply Association, in conjunction with business intelligence partner Industry Insights, conducted a second survey of ASA member companies on a variety of topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey was part of a large-scale Industry Insights initiative that queried more than 30 associations spanning an assortment of industries. More than 1,500 responses to the survey were received, including those of ASA member companies.
The survey follows up on a previous field study several weeks ago, and this time digs deeper into the business-related effects of the pandemic, including staff reductions and applying for government assistance, plus how companies plan to react going forward and their predictions on when business conditions will return to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Overall profile during pandemic
On the subject of remote working, 54.8% of ASA respondents say in 2019 they had no remote employees, while 45.2% had between 1 and 20 percent of their workforce working remotely. Since the pandemic started, those numbers have spiked to 61.3% falling in the 1 to 20 percent remote-working category, 16.1% falling in the 21 to 50 percent category and only 3.2% in the 75 percent-or-above of total workforce threshold.
A total of 93.6% of respondents say their ASA-member companies have been deemed essential in all locations, while 3.2% say their businesses are essential in some locations.
Shifting to the direct impact of the virus, 67.7% of ASA respondents say stay-at-home and social distancing measures currently in effect in most areas are very necessary, while 32.3 percent label them as somewhat necessary.
ASA member respondents to the survey reported zero employees having a confirmed case of the virus.
On the financial front, 63.3% of ASA respondents say they have been negatively impacted, while 36.7% report no negative financial impact thus far, which is lower than the 80.7% negative impact response from the entire survey field. Among ASA respondents, 71.4% of ASA distributors that took the survey say they have been negatively affected.
Looking ahead throughout 2020, 67.7% of ASA member respondents say the pandemic will have a somewhat negative impact on their company, while 29% say it will have a very negative impact (rises to 31.8% with ASA distributors answering very negative).
Talking about workforce reductions, 48.4% of ASA respondents say the pandemic has had no impact on the number of employees in their company, while 45.2% report moderate staff reductions and 6.5% report major staff reductions. When breaking it down to ASA distributors only, 54.6% say they have had moderate staff reductions, while 4.6% say they have had major staff reductions.
When asked to what extent do you have concerns about the long-term viability of your company due to the coronavirus, 45.2% say they have no concerns, while 38.7% have mild concerns and 16.1% have moderate concerns. On the distributor front, 54.6% of ASA distributor respondents say they have no concerns with long-term viability.
The question was then asked that if there was no government action plan (i.e. CARES Act), what level of concern would a company have about long-term viability? To that extent, 37.9% of ASA respondents say they would have moderate concerns, while 27.6% say they would have no concerns and 24.1% would have mild concerns, and 10.3% say they would have major concerns. On the ASA distributor front, 33.3% answered no concerns, 28.6% said mild concerns and moderate concerns, while 9.5% say they would have major concerns without government assistance.
Product-wise, 53.3% of ASA respondents say they have no experienced delays in getting materials/products from suppliers during the pandemic, while 46.7% have experienced delays, that number ticks up slightly to 47.6% for ASA distributor respondents.
Diving deeper into staff reductions, 41.9% of ASA member respondents say they have furloughed, laid off or terminated employees since March 1. When looking at ASA distributors, 50% of distributor respondents have reduced staff since March 1.
If an ASA respondent answered yes to the staff reduction question, it was asked what percentage of the company’s total workforce has been reduced? The median response was 10% and the average was 9.9%. Those numbers are similar for ASA distributors (10 and 9.3).
A total of 78.6% of ASA respondents say they plan to apply for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (80% for ASA distributor respondents).
44.4% of ASA respondents plan to hire back recently furloughed/laid-off employees once the loan has been disbursed, while 44.4% say they aren’t sure. With ASA distributors, 50% say they plan to hire back folks when the loan has been distributed.
Only 10.7% of ASA respondents say they plan to apply for a loan through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (10% for ASA distributors).
Top responses from ASA members to the question of which new action has your company put in place this year due to the virus, include: physical employee distancing (96.8%), cancelled all large group conferences, events, exhibits (96.8%), eliminating visitors to the office (90.3%), daily office cleanings/sanitizing (87.1%), increased availability of hand sanitizer (83.9%), and cancelled all in-person meetings (74.2%) and posting reminders about proper hygiene (74.2%).
On the topic of disaster plans covering topics such as major employee absenteeism, prioritizing customers, identifying alternative suppliers, suspending operations and extending sick pay, 54.8% of ASA member respondents say they have no plan for any of these scenarios (59.1% for ASA distributors), while 29% say yes to extended sick pay and identifying alternate suppliers, while 22.6% responded yes to both major employee absenteeism and suspending operations.
ASA respondents were asked to predict when they anticipate the pandemic will be over and when their company’s day-to-day operations will return to pre-COVID-19 status. For this, 48.4% of ASA respondents say 2 to 3 months from now (up to 50% for ASA distributors for the 2-3-month timeframe), while 22.6% say 1-2 months, and 16.1% say 4 to 6 months.
When asked once stay-at-home orders/directives are lifted, how soon do you plan to return to pre-COVID-19 activity for having most of the workforce back in the office, 56% say return in the first month, while 20 percent answered both immediately and 1 to 3 months. Asking that same question about domestic travel, 41.9% say resume in 1 to 3 months, while 22.6% say in the first month and 19.4% say in 4 to 6 months, while 12.9% of ASA respondents say immediately resume domestic company travel.
The question also was asked about resumption of large group activities such as conferences, events and exhibits. Here, 48.4% of ASA respondents say 1 to 3 months, while 25.8% say return in 4 to 6 months, while 31.8% of ASA distributor respondents say return to large group gatherings in 4 to 6 months.