LCCI survey: Lockdown severely hit businesses

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•Lagos unemployment rate may hit 45 per cent

THE Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says a significant fraction of businesses, precisely 81per cent, has been ‘severely’ affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in Lagos.
It noted that only 17 per cent indicate moderate impact on their business.
“Additionally, the lockdown had severe impact on over 50 per cent of businesses in the services sector,” it added, saying that “the profound impact on the service sector is as result of lower demand by individual and corporate clients.”
According to a survey conducted by the LCCI on the lockdown, “clients prioritised food and essential items ahead of ‘relatively less important’ services, and corporate clients ran skeletal operations, which depressed demand for {non-essential} services.
It revealed that “majority of the respondents (64 per cent ), lost about N500, 000 and below daily during the lockdown, while 16 per cent indicated a loss of between N 1million and N2million. About 20 per cent of businesses indicated a loss of N2 million and above daily during the lockdown.
“A conservative assumption of sampled business operators, said they lost an average of N500, 000 each day during the lockdown, suggesting that each operator lost N17.5 million within the five-week lockdown (March 31 to May 3, 2020).”
This modest estimation indicated that about N2.7 billion was lost in revenue by sampled businesses (n=153) to the lockdown. This translates to trillions of naira losses for thousands of businesses operating in Lagos

The survey report further said: “Our findings showed that selected business operators are weighing different cost-cutting strategies to help minimise losses and stay afloat in the post-pandemic era. Majority of the respondents (63 per cent), plan to downsize operations to minimise losses.
“This is not surprising as businesses have not generated income over a five- week period and have lost trillions of Naira in profit due to lockdown. This suggests that unemployment rate is expected to increase drastically in post-lockdown era, except government takes urgent steps to support business owners towards surviving and ensuring business continuity.”
The survey reported added that: Most of the respondents (46 per cent ) intend to slash salary and reduce workforce as a joint measure; 24 per cent plan to cut personnel cost only. Thirteen per cent intends to trim staff strength only, while 17 per cent have proposed no salary payment.
“Cost-cutting strategies, particularly downsizing has implications for the economy from unemployment and productivity perspectives. First, it will exacerbate the already-high level of unemployment as more and more workers risk impending job losses. This may see unemployment rate surge to between 40 per cent – 45 per cent by end-2020 from 23.1 per cent as at Q3-2018.
“Additionally, the potential risk of huge job losses will aggravate the magnitude of stagflation (high unemployment + high inflation + low growth) in the economy. This has ripple effects on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) given that private consumption by households accounts for about 60 per cent of national output.”

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