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With this scientific study on the expectations of firms in Germany, the Research Centre of the Deutsche Bundesbank wants to gain an understanding of the current situation.
The coronavirus pandemic led to substantial decreases in sales and employment in 2020. These drops were particularly sharp at the beginning of the crisis. The decline in sales was especially strong among small enterprises, while the reduction in employment was documented primarily by larger firms. Drop in sales and employment continued throughout the year, although it was less strong at the end of the year than at the beginning of the pandemic. Cash reserves decreased too, leading to rising credit demand.
After a short period of recovery, firms’ expectations deteriorated in autumn again. Towards the end of the year, firms were partly as pessimistic as they were in spring. Small firms have been particularly pessimistic. By contrast, expectations of larger firms recovered somewhat over the course of the year.
Enterprises considered the “lack of customer demand”, the “high level of regulation or government rules”, and “closures or work restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic” to be some of the biggest challenges in 2020. More than one-third of respondents expected these to become pressing issues in the second half of 2020. The percentage of respondents considering these issues to become (extremely) pressing in the following six months grew even further in autumn. Larger firms judged the high level of competition to be most challenging.
In spring, the percentage of firms that negotiated a new credit because of the coronavirus crisis was twice as high as the percentage of firms that negotiated a new credit for other reasons. Throughout the year, the share of negotiations initiated because of the crisis halved, though. Large enterprises were more likely than small enterprises to negotiate a new credit for a reason not related to the current crisis. However, there was an overall high incidence of negotiations initiated because of the crisis across all firm sizes. Over the course of the year, the share of firms that needed a new credit and received it in the requested amount and at the desired conditions grew, while the share of unsuccessful credit negotiations decreased.