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COVID-19 survey: SMEs consider the risk of bankruptcy to be real

Apr 27, 2020.

Many Swiss SMEs are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown. According to a survey by Generali Switzerland and the Swiss SME Association (SKV), a quarter of SMEs estimate that they have suffered at least 50% losses in revenue, while almost half of respondents have applied for short-time work or consider bankruptcy to be likely if the current situation continues.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Swiss economy. More than 99% of companies in Switzerland are SMEs and they employ two-thirds of its working population. The lockdown enforced due to COVID-19 is affecting many of these approximately 590,000 companies and thus threatening vast numbers of jobs. The combination of a drastic drop in both demand and supply could lead to a recession. 

 

In light of these prospects, many companies are unsettled. What are the biggest concerns for SMEs at the moment, how have they responded to this challenging situation and what is their outlook for the future? From 3 to 17 April 2020, Generali Switzerland and the Swiss SME Association (SKV) surveyed members and customers about the effects of the coronavirus crisis. 716 SMEs took part. 

 

Eroding revenue 

The companies paint a somewhat bleak picture and have taken drastic measures in some cases. 43% of SMEs confirmed that they have applied for short-time work for their employees, 32% have applied for a bridging loan from the federal government, and 7% have had to make redundancies due to the situation. 

 

A large number of respondents complained of a sharp drop in revenue, with a quarter of SMEs estimating that they have suffered sales losses of 50% or more. 

 

The threat of bankruptcy is also real, with 46% of SMEs considering this likely if the situation persists. 

 

While many SMEs have shown innovation during this challenging period, with a quarter of respondents having adapted their offering, service or products, 58% did not consider this relevant. Those SMEs that have adapted to the situation have done so primarily in the area of customer service, for example by providing online advice (43%). Meanwhile, 27% now offer their products via e-commerce, and 23% have launched a delivery service or started offering take-aways (15%). 

 

Post-crisis marketing push planned

Although a recession is generally expected, companies are planning to vigorously step up their marketing efforts during the post-crisis period. A third of SMEs intend to increase their marketing activities, almost a quarter aim to win back customers with special promotions and discounts, and 14% plan to expand their product range. 

 

In view of the exceptional situation and the difficult economic environment, Generali and the SKV have launched the SME Academy, which is designed to match the needs of SMEs to the services of Generali and its partners. In short and free online training courses, various experts will impart their practical knowledge to assist SMEs and the self-employed in this challenging time. 

 

The survey

From 3 to 17 April 2020, Generali Switzerland and the Swiss SME Association (SKV) conducted a survey of members and customers about the effects of the coronavirus crisis. 716 SMEs took part. 

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