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More than half of Exeter businesses could fold

Six months left for 60% of firms

Six in 10 businesses in the Greater Exeter area won’t be operating in six months’ time unless coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

The shocking figure’s been revealed in a survey by Exeter Chamber of Commerce. It asked companies in the travel-to-work area how the crisis is affecting them.  Of 140 respondents, two-thirds say they’re facing severe difficulties, and it looks like it’s going to be terminal for many – despite feeling well-informed about government help. Their greatest need is for more financial support.

The impact of the coronavirus lockdown is ‘severe’ according to 60 per cent of businesses in and around Exeter.  Two-thirds (66%) are seeing decreased sales, 62% are experiencing cashflow issues and three-quarters (74%) have furloughed staff. Cancellation of events and restricted travel movements are also having a substantial impact.

Exeter Chamber board director Clodagh Murphy, said: “While businesses report feeling well-informed on the government support available, their greatest need is more financial aid, particularly where support has not been available so far, as for example, with directors’ renumeration.  Of course, we welcome the chancellor’s new government loan guarantee scheme for small business, but some businesses are still falling between the support packages on offer.”

She continued: “Many have been incredibly agile in revising their products and services and redeveloping their business models in order to continue trading during the lockdown, but transparency on planned government proposals for exiting lockdown is urgently required so businesses can prepare for the next phase.

“However, whilst the economic impact of the lockdown can’t be underestimated, Exeter is a resilient city with a previously strong economic performance.  Over the past weeks, the business community has really come together to support each other which will be key to rebuilding our economy.”

In response to the businesses’ needs, Exeter Chamber has formed a taskforce, Stronger Together, working with other business organisations including InExeter, the FSB, Tribe, Heart of the South West Skills Hub, Tech South West, Exeter City Council and Devon County Council.  The group will work together to help the business community and the local economy return as strongly and as swiftly as possible.

To see the full survey results, visit


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