Central Va. CEOs ‘unhappy’ with pace of reopening
However, survey shows better sales, capital spending outlook
Although a majority of Central Virginia CEOs have an improved outlook for sales, capital spending and employment for the next six months, they’re unhappy with the pace of reopening, according to a follow-up 2020 CEO Economic Outlook Survey released Friday by the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business and the Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEO).
“As companies begin the slow climb out of this steep downturn, they will have to draw upon the ingenuity and skill of their employees to discover new ways of doing business,” Robins School Dean Mickey Quiñones said in a statement.
Nearly 60% of CEOs responded that, compared with their expectations for their businesses at the end of April, business had been “about as expected.”
The survey specifically asked questions related to COVID-19. More than 67% responded that they will continue to operate without significant layoffs, but 19% expect significant layoffs. More than half of those surveyed still expect capital spending to decrease during the next six months.
“I’m relieved to see that small business CEOs feel like the worst is over, and that optimism is ticking up slightly,” VACEO Executive Director Scot McRoberts said in a statement. “I think it is also a good sign that few of these CEOs have resorted to layoffs, indicating a belief that business will rebound sooner, rather than later.”
Even as Gov. Ralph Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan for reopening has entered its second phase statewide, nearly half of the CEOs surveyed found that the pace of reopening was too slow. But nearly 75% of CEOs say they haven’t noticed any change in productivity since employees have been working from home.
“Despite the uncertainty that remains around future policies, we see a gradual increase in CEO sentiment.” Randy Raggio, associate dean at the Robins School, said in a statement. “These monthly surveys have given us a unique look at how sentiment has inched upwards as the situation has begun to stabilize.”
Eighty-two CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered from May 20 through May 22. CEOs in industries including construction, manufacturing, finance, insurance and retail responded.