COVID-19 causes rough going and worrisome outlook for Oklahoma City businesses, survey shows


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Most Oklahoma City businesses have either already lost revenue or expect to lose revenue during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber survey.

Chamber officials on Friday released the results from its first point-in-time survey of business impact from the pandemic, according to a chamber news release.

The survey was given to local businesses over a 48-hour period that began at noon Tuesday, March 17 and ended at noon Thursday, March 19.

“We know this is a rapidly changing situation and the effects are going to evolve,” said Roy Williams, President and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “This survey gives us a general idea of the concerns our businesses were facing as the emergency and significant closings were being implemented. We anticipate doing a similar survey again next week with Oklahoma City companies to understand how they are progressing.”

The survey found that most businesses are still open but have either changed how they operate or limited their open hours. The statistics are as follows:

  • 10 percent of respondents said their locations were closed;
  • 34 percent said their business was open with no changes in operation;
  • 56 percent said they were open with altered operations or limited hours.

The survey also shows that a large majority of the businesses are limiting travel or meetings, and less than 25 percent had not implemented travel and meeting restrictions, according to the news release.

Many businesses are either limiting onsite operations or switching to remote work. The survey gathered the following statistics:

  • 25 percent were still operating normally;
  • 25 percent restricted building access to only their employees;
  • 14 percent had gone fully remote;
  • 10 percent were preparing to make changes.

Business operators in Oklahoma City have become concerned about available resources and their technical capability to enable remote work. They are also concerned that many jobs cannot be done remotely, according to the news release.

Limited building sanitation supplies is also adversely affecting many business’ ability to remain open and operational, the news release states.

“Ongoing concerns about childcare and employee issues is another top concern,” the news release states.

Lack of customer demand and a slow-down in development activities is heavily impacting Oklahoma City businesses, according to the news release.

Employee availability and supply chain has also become a problem.

“Only 3 percent of businesses had seen no change in their environment,” the news release states.

Those who took the survey said beyond customer behavior, anticipated school and campus closures are their biggest concern because of the combined impact on workforce or customer demand, according to the news release.

Survey participants anticipate the following future developments:

  • 80 percent have already lost or expect to lose business;
  • An average revenue decline of nearly 40 percent (the median decline was 30 percent);
  • 19 percent expect to lay off workers;
  • 38 percent were unsure about future layoffs;
  • 43 percent do not anticipate the need to lay off employees at this time.

Survey participants were asked to describe what support they are needing. Many said they are looking for a return to normal operations and that they’re seeking financial support to help them endure drops in revenue.

“It is clear from this survey that this emergency could have a significant impact on our community,” said Williams. “Managers and owners are also concerned about the energy downturn and the impact it is already having on their revenue, so this is a second crisis to manage. We see particular concern in the hospitality sector, which is the fastest growing segment of the Oklahoma City economy. The information we are learning through this survey and our daily conversations with companies across the region is vital for both our quick response efforts and the medium and long-term response to this situation.”

The Chamber is gathering and developing resources that businesses can rely upon while weathering the coronavirus crisis. Those resources can be accessed at www.okcchamber/covid19.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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