91% of children’s activity businesses have been ‘significantly impacted’ by Covid-19.
That’s one of the headline stats coming out of the ICAP Business Impact Survey we held recently, which received 244 responses.
Reduced income (93% of respondents), increased stress levels (82%), enforced move to online provision (73%) and delayed growth plans (61%) were just a few of the impacts.
25% of respondents said they anticipated between 26 – 50% of lost income year on year. 32% expected between 51 – 75% and and a further 24% felt the loss would be closer to 100% for their business.
Looking ahead, their immediate concerns included their mental health and wellbeing (68%), cash flow (67%) and long-term venue closures (63%).
Responses to when activity providers believed they would be back at near to full capacity was mixed. Just 8% felt it would be around Easter, 14% expected the Summer Term (May – July) to be more likely with the largest number of respondents (32%) anticipating Autumn to be more realistic. A further 27% stated they were unsure.
A full report will be released later this month, which also covers financial support accessed, Government opinion and professional communities.
One of the early conclusions we’ve come to when analysing the data is that while people have expressed concerns and laid bare the impact of reduced income and increased stress as examples, business owners are being extremely realistic across the sector.
What comes with this level of realism is:
a) an acceptance of the business impact and
b) the importance of planning ahead.
We’ve spoken openly about the need for multiple plans in what will likely be another challenging year. Perhaps using some of the above data will be useful in planning for different scenarios.
The flip-flopping of 2020 between lockdowns, tiers and U-turns was frustrating for all. We all acutely know the great importance of what our sector provides to children and parents and that sometimes wasn’t evident from Government communications.
That said, the ability for many of activity providers to continue operating in person services even in the strictest of tiers suggests a better appreciation of the role we play for families. The ongoing concerns being raised about children’s education and wellbeing will likely mean a sharp focus on the likes of children’s activity providers to help schools, nurseries and families get through the next few months/years. This of course bodes well for secure ongoing demand across the sector.
This combined with a strong Governmental response to the vaccine roll-out (as of writing the UK are 3rd globally in proportion of the population vaccinated) suggests while caution is advised, we can look ahead more positively.
When exactly each activity business will be in full swing, only time will tell, however continuing to look ahead with a pragmatic yet optimistic approach is a must for any children’s activity provider. Let’s make sure we are ready to continue being the leaders and inspirational figures children need for the future.