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Over 80% SMEs impacted during pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic took a financial toll on most Cypriot Small and Medium enterprises, with almost half of businesses forced to lay off staff, according to a recent survey.

Some 83% of the 541 SMEs that participated in the survey reported decreased turnover during the pandemic from March 2020 to December 2021.

The survey was carried out by the small shopkeepers’ association POVEK, collaborating with the Bank of Cyprus and data analytics firm Retail Zoom.

Some 58% of the companies reported they suffered a large reduction in their turnover, while 25% said they recorded a significant decrease.

Out of the 541 companies, 43% said they had to reduce their staff by up to 20%.

The majority of companies affected are active in the hospitality and entertainment sector, where lockdowns bit the most.

According to the survey, 70% were firms employing 2 to 9 people, 18% one person and 12% employed from 10 to 49 people.

The survey established that 61% of businesses had to adjust to how they operated, turning to online sales and digital solutions and diversifying their products and services.

Companies offering delivery services reported an increase in their turnover.

Businesses reported that their major concerns concern rent payments (78%) are paying rent, debt to partners (73%) and accumulated debt towards banking institutions.

A 52% is concerned over the increased competitiveness.

The vast majority, 83%, of businesses said they were not happy with the government’s financial support handed out to businesses and their staff.

However, SMEs expected authorities to do more to support them regarding rent payments.

The survey notes that concerns raised had troubled SMEs before the pandemic, but the virus outbreak exacerbated these issues.

SMEs argue that a holistic support package, coupled with efforts to become more flexible and adapt to the new challenges, will put them back on track with the least possible losses.