REVEALED: COVID-19’s impact on Gladstone businesses
A NEW survey has revealed 65 per cent of Gladstone businesses have either had to close their doors or restrict their trading due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The survey, conducted by the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, showed of those businesses, 19 per cent had to completely close while 46 per cent had a restriction to their business.
Most concerningly, 40 per cent of respondents did not believe they would be solvent by June 30 this year.
The survey showed 63 per cent of businesses have had to lay off staff or reduce hours, however this statistic could change with the JobKeeper stimulus package.
At the time of the survey 40 per cent of businesses were planning further staff and hours reductions.
GCCI president Joe Smith said the survey provided very clear results, with businesses struggling due to the wait time for cash support from stimulus measures.
“We welcome the stimulus packages all levels of government have offered, however the cash isn’t getting to businesses quickly enough,” Mr Smith said.
“With the Cashflow Boost stimulus not arriving until April 28 at the earliest, it will not be a direct cash payment for most businesses.”
As May 1 is the earliest date for the JobKeeper stimulus payments to be received, Mr Smith said he was extremely concerned for businesses made to pay $750 to eligible employees each week which is significantly more than the regular wages for some casual and part time employees.
“Although the government has given a guarantee to take to the bank, there is a backlog of applications for lending with banks as well as for the Queensland Government loans package for businesses,” Mr Smith said.
“GCCI are seeking a weekly or fortnightly payment to businesses under the JobKeeper package to ease the cashflow burden on them.”
Results from the survey indicated businesses were looking for more financial assistance to help with issues such as rent, bills and ongoing human resource problems.
“The payroll tax refunds are also welcomed however they are not applicable to most small businesses,” Mr Smith said.
Aside from financial support, businesses said they were seeking assistance in advertising, ongoing support from clients, guidance and clear direction, and a “greater commitment from community to do the right thing”.