To date, three surveys have been conducted by Clear Seas Research to discover how manufacturers view their current business and future outlook in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first survey was conducted on March 24-26, the second from April 2-6, and the third from April 16-20.

Manufacturers (88% of which report that they are deemed “essential”) were asked a range of questions related to their main areas of concern regarding the coronavirus, their levels of active and planned business, new business development activity, plans to seek assistance through stimulus loans, and more. Some questions have been asked in all three surveys, which enables us to track manufacturers’ evolving circumstances as the pandemic continues.

Tracking Business Levels and Activities

Compared to the results of the first survey near the end of March, fewer manufacturers in the current survey report that their active and planned business is on schedule. As shown in Figure 1, the amount of active business reported as on schedule has declined from 67% in the first survey to 63% in the April 2-6 results and 56% in the latest survey. Similarly, on-schedule planned business, which had been reported at 63% by respondents in the first survey, dropped to 57% in the second survey and just 50% in the current round of results (see Figure 2).

The ongoing toll of the pandemic can also be seen in responses related to new business development (see Figure 3). Slightly more than one-third of respondents (36%) at the end of March indicated that their new business development activity was unchanged or had increased. Though the number saw a slight drop to 34% in the April 2-6 survey, the current results show that only about one-quarter (26%) of new business development activity is the same or on the rise.

Relief and Recovery

Nearly half (48%) of the current survey’s respondents are seeking a small business stimulus loan through the CARES Act (9% of these have already received money), while 13% report that they aren’t planning to apply despite being eligible. The remainder of respondents (38%) do not qualify for the aid package.

Respondents to the most recent survey were also asked how long they expect it to take for their businesses to get back on track, from the day they responded to the survey. Roughly one-third (34%) expect their business’ recovery to take three months or less, while 37% expect it to take four to six months. Additional responses include: seven to nine months, 12%; 10-12 months, 9%; 13-15 months, 2%; 16-18 months, 4%; and more than 18 months, 4%.

The full results of this survey are available at no charge. I’m interested in hearing how the pandemic is impacting your business. Please leave a comment below or contact me directly at (248) 786-1704 or