Insight provider CGA carried out a snap survey of around 100 bosses across small businesses to larger companies in which it asked operators their views on the disease.
What are food businesses doing to minimise the coronavirus risk?
- Producing staff guidelines to encourage hygienic practices (83%)
- Increasing availability of hand sanitisers on-site (65%)
- Producing staff guidelines in case of isolation cases (64%)
- Minimising cash flow risks (61%)
- Producing staff guidelines on how to self-isolate (60%)
- Producing staff guidelines for travel and health (56%)
- Developing a plan to minimise impact of potential site closures (48%)
Some 42% felt there would be an “extremely negative” impact on their sales and 51% said there would be a “quite negative” hit.
More than half (51%) also predicted the public health concern would have an “extremely negative” impact on their profitability, while an additional 44% suggested it would be relatively negative.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is deliberating whether to introduce “social distancing” measures to limit the spread of the infection.
This could see big events cancelled alongside people being hesitant to mix with strangers in their spare time, at a time when the pub trade is already struggling to compete with a stay at home economy fuelled by television subscription and food delivery services.
CGA found that more than eight in 10 (85%) senior executives described themselves as being “concerned” about the threat of coronavirus to their business, with 58% of leaders “very concerned”.
Despite this concern, less than half of bosses (47%) said they would definitely pay staff who self-isolate, which the Government has urged businesses to do to limit the spread of the disease.
Some 45% said they had not decided what to do while just 8% said they would not pay staff who avoided work for this reason.
However a separate poll by CGA found that 57% of consumers predicted they would eat and drink out as much over the next three months as they currently do.
Coronavirus worries follow concerns about the impact of stricter immigration rules, where the Government announced a new points-based system would come into effect on 1 January 2021.
CGA said the plans had left just one in five leaders confident in their capabilities to recruit, train and retrain a workforce, with its figures showing there has been a dramatic hit on hospitality confidence over the past few weeks.
Its latest survey has found sector confidence has dropped to its lowest point since immediately after the EU referendum, after beginning it at a four-year high in an earlier survey.
Just 16% of bosses said they felt optimistic about the next 12 months for the market.