Economy & Politics

Civey barometer: Second corona wave fuels business fears

Empty chairs are piling up: The second wave of the corona pandemic is terrifying the gastronomy.
Empty chairs are piling up: The second wave of the corona pandemic is terrifying the gastronomy.imago images / IPON

The second corona wave is causing great uncertainty among German companies. According to a Civey survey, almost every second person expects negative economic consequences from the threateningly high number of infections, especially among self-employed and medium-sized companies. Another 40 percent do not yet have a final opinion, but only one in ten has a positive view of their business environment despite the wave.

That is the result of an exclusive recession barometer for which the survey company Civey surveyed more than a thousand self-employed and private-sector decision-makers in medium-sized companies for two weeks from the end of October. What is striking here is that pessimism predominates in the younger age group of 18-29 year olds in terms of the outlook for the further effects of the second wave of the pandemic.

While the upcoming winter months are becoming a question of survival, especially in the catering and travel and entertainment industries, the survey also shows the widespread concern about job losses. Almost a third of the participants in the survey assume that jobs will be cut or further cut in their companies – although around half expect this to be “not really” or “not at all”.

Concern about jobs pronounced

The basic existential fears among freelancers and medium-sized companies do not seem as acute as they were in the spring: Two thirds have no concern that their company will have to file for bankruptcy due to the Corona crisis. Whereby the trend among the under 30-year-olds is in the opposite direction: there, optimists and pessimists are balanced, each with around 40 percent. Across all age groups, the fear of bankruptcy is “rather large” or “very large” at around 20 percent.

Quite a few companies in need were kept afloat by state aid funds: the initial Corona emergency aid, the subsequent bridging aid and of course the short-time work allowance. Among the respondents, short-time working (25 percent) and emergency government aid (17 percent) were the first means of choice when financial aid was requested. An astonishing 60 percent of the decision-makers and the self-employed said that they did not take advantage of any short-term offers of help in the context of the corona pandemic.

By the beginning of October, the federal government had paid out less than a third of the available 50 billion euro pot of Corona emergency aid for companies. As the Left Party asked in the Bundestag, a total of 13.6 billion euros flowed out of the program launched in March. A total of around 2.2 million applications for emergency aid were submitted and almost 16 percent were rejected.

Despite the moderate demand and frequent criticism of the bureaucratic effort, the economic assistance offered by the federal and state governments are largely rated positively in the survey. Freelancers had just sounded the alarm because they fell through the rust: Money was only allowed to be used for business expenses – for example for office rents or transport costs – but not for living expenses.

Restart help for the solo self-employed

Now, in the first half of 2021, a separate program for self-employed people is to be launched, which promises a one-off lump sum of up to 5000 euros, based on 25 percent of sales from the same period of the previous year. Bridging aid III, which will contain this restart aid and which will reimburse between 40 and 90 percent of the eligible fixed costs depending on the loss of sales, will enter its third round by summer 2021.

In comparison, loans (such as the KfW corporate loan) were rarely used – by just under four percent of those surveyed by Civey. The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), which implements Corona aid in close cooperation with the German banking industry, had received around 90,000 loan applications by the end of September – 97 percent of them from small and medium-sized companies. According to the bank, a funding volume of 45.4 billion euros has been promised, usually for loans of up to 3 million euros.

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