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COVID-19, COVID impact on manufacturing,

A longer-tailed recovery

On the eve of the six-month anniversary of the UK entering a nationwide lockdown, optimism among UK manufacturers and engineers for a speedy return to ‘normal’ was dissipating, according to research carried out by Subcon, the UK’s subcontract manufacturing supply chain show.

“Two surveys asking identical questions were conducted five months apart. In April, just 13 per cent of the 247 industry professionals believed the impact of Covid-19 on the supply chain would continue to be felt after a year. By August, that number had rocketed to 59 per cent, with industry expecting recovery to follow a much deeper, longer curve than originally forecast. One in 10 initially predicted repercussions would last for more than two years, but five months on, that figure had almost doubled to 17 per cent,” said the exhibition organiser.

“Despite believing we’re facing a longer-tailed recovery than initially hoped, the survey also showed that, as we passed through the summer months and lockdown restrictions were lifted, significantly fewer people – though still a high number and clear majority – were convinced that COVID-19 would have/has had a negative impact on the supply chain.”

The survey asked respondents to rate their answers from 1-10, with 1 being no impact and 10 very negative. In April, 86 per cent opted for a number between 6 and 10. By August, this had dropped to 68 per cent.

Finally, the industry was asked how they felt about the UK Government’s performance and support packages throughout the crisis. More than half (54 per cent) pre-empted in April they would take advantage of emergency COVID-19 support, including the job retention scheme, small business loans and business rates relief. In reality, 57 per cent of the total did.

“But in spite of this take-up, confidence in the UK Government’s response to the pandemic has dropped sharply since April, when 71 per cent believed Parliament had done enough to ‘limit the effects on people, business and the economy’. By August, this had fallen to 58 per cent,” added the exhibition organiser.

“While it’s fair to say that no one could have forecast that 2020 would be the year the planet was practically brought to a standstill by a global pandemic, or the impact it would have on people, businesses and the British economy, our surveys show that we are also now realising that it’s proving equally challenging to predict how long the impact is going to last and the trajectory that our recovery will follow,” commented Subcon event director, Gordon Kirk.

“While there are few positives from COVID-19, the increasing industry confidence in the resilience of our supply chain over the last five months is very encouraging to see and I’m sure this will only continue to rise as further time passes. The disruption seen across international supply chains has shone a light on the true value of a reliable local supply chain, that can operate dependably within tighter lead times,” he added.

Subcon, the UK’s subcontract manufacturing supply chain show, is co-located with Manufacturing Management Show and The Engineer Expo from 26-28 January 2021 at the NEC, Birmingham (UK).

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