Central Va. CEOs expect revenues to decline in next six months
However, 64% of surveyed CEOs don't expect significant layoffs.
A majority of Central Virginia CEOs expect sales revenues to decline during the next six months but don’t expect to significantly reduce their workforces as a result of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a follow-up 2020 CEO Economic Outlook Survey released Wednesday by the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business and the Virginia Council of CEOs.
“These results confirm what I’ve been hearing from CEOs — that we may have hit bedrock, and many businesses can begin clawing their way out of this hole,” Scot McRoberts, executive director of VACEOs, said in a statement. “What is unclear is how long their businesses will be at the bottom, and how quickly they can climb out.”
More than 60% of CEOs responded that, compared with their expectations for their businesses at the end of March, business had been “about as expected.” More than 77% expect sales to be lower during the next six months. And more than one-third of respondents reported that they expect employment to decrease over the next six months.
The survey specifically asked questions related to COVID-19. Approximately 64% responded that they will continue to operate without significant layoffs, but 13% responded that significant layoffs are “probably” or “definitely” likely.
Another issue CEOs identified in the survey is skill gaps. While dealing with technology and a remote workforce, CEOs have identified creative sales and marketing as a gap.
“I wish we had a full-time marketing professional to help us communicate and pivot during this time,” one CEO responded in the survey.
CEOs were also asked what state and federal governments can do to help small businesses during the crisis, and more than half of the responses related to expanding or extending loan programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program.
The Robins School and VACEOs jointly conduct the survey on a quarterly basis, but this survey was conducted as a follow-up due to the fast-moving, recent economic crisis. Randy Raggio, associate dean at the Robins School, administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter.
“Although the outlook still is not good, this month produced the largest improvement in the index in the survey’s history,” Raggio said. “We intend to repeat the survey once a month until this crisis is over to track sentiment and to give Virginia CEOs a voice in the conversation.”
One hundred CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered from April 20 through April 23. CEOs in industries including construction, manufacturing, finance, insurance and retail responded.