Still from afar, but Spanish companies are beginning to see the light at the end of the long tunnel of the health crisis. This is at least reflected in the latest survey on the evolution of its activity by the Bank of Spain, from which data are much more encouraging than in previous editions, thanks to the advance in the rate of vaccination that has allowed the restrictions on the businesses most affected by the pandemic.
The survey was conducted during the month of May and collects information and perspectives in the short term on billing, employment and prices paid and charged by companies. Although still modest, companies already state, on average, having observed a positive evolution of their activity. It is still early to recover pre-crisis levels but, at least, the tone of the consultation is better than the pessimism that reigned in recent quarters.
The proportion of companies that expects to recover their turnover level in 2022 already represents 30% of the total. The data is very limited, but it is already 20 points more than in the survey carried out at the end of 2020. And this character is generalized, including the hospitality industry, although in this case only 8% of companies expect to recover their activity levels in 2019 before the year is out. And almost 30% of them anticipate that this will happen only after 2022, percentages that contrast with 45% and 11.5%, respectively, in the case of industrial branches.
In other words, despite the greater optimism, recovering full normality for activity and employment seems a long way off. But you are walking in the right direction. “In the second quarter there has been a significant increase in companies that claim to have seen an increase in their turnover,” explains the author of the analysis Mario Iquierdo. Specifically, the percentage of respondents whose sales have grown in this period is 30%, well above the 13.3% of the previous quarter.
On the other hand, most companies indicate that their turnover in the second quarter remains stable compared to the first, 46.4%, and this proportion is similar to that observed in the previous edition of the survey. Regarding the short-term prospects, an improvement is anticipated for the third quarter of the year, a period in which up to 40% of companies expect an increase in their activity, 10 points more than in the previous survey.
Other positive indicators that are collected at the beginning of the improvement in the perception of factors such as the evolution of demand or difficulties in collecting payments from customers. Access to finance, especially among small businesses, remains one of the main uncertainties.
Regarding employment, and facing the summer months, companies also foresee a better evolution, although to a lesser extent than in the case of billing. This lower intensity could be explained by the mitigating impact of ERTE on the labor market. A figure that, in the same way, many companies plan to stop using in the coming months. “The improvement in the economic prospects is reflected in the fact that a quarter of the companies express their intention to reincorporate workers who are currently in a ERTE situation”, they explain from the Bank of Spain.
Among the measures that companies plan to adopt to face the pandemic, about 20% affirm that they will reduce investments, as well as resort to new credits guaranteed by the ICO. 10% intend to adjust the hours worked or wages downwards and, to a lesser extent, new ERTEs will be requested.