Monthly Bulletin of Economic Trends I March 2020

Hungarian businesses' perceptions concerning the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic

The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) surveyed Hungarian companies about the economic effects of the global pandemic. In the first wave, there were 16340 respondents answering by 23rd March, 2020. Incoming answers were analysed by HCCI's Institute for Economic and Enterprise Research. In the survey the overwhelming majority of businesses (83%) reported an unfavourable business situation. This is particularly true for companies specialising in accommodation/catering services, trade and delivery/logistics – these branches being the most vulnerable to the pandemic. Furthermore, business have become much more pessimistic since mid-March. Since then, the number of companies deeming their situation as most unfavourable increased by almost twofold (from 37 to 67 per cent). Almost a half (41 per cent) of the surveyed companies experienced serious hindering issues that were linked to the spread of the virus.

This analysis features three main aspects: companies' expectations about the business situation in the future, their perception of the current situation, and crisis management options. The vast majority of respondents (83 per cent) expects a deterioration in their business outlook although the adverse effects are currently experienced by somewhat less than a half of them. Yet the overwhelming majority of respondents (about 83%) have no emergency scenario to manage the crisis. Among those who do have crisis management strategies the most popular solution is working from home (i. e. home office): almost a third of such companies would switch to home office when needed.

The impact of the pandemic on companies' business situations

The majority (83%) of respondents thinks that their company will have to grapple with an unfavourable business situation in the upcoming six months, while 50% expects a particularly gloomy business situation in the next half. 13 per cent believes that their situation will not change, and only 5 per cent expects a boost.
As for company size, SMEs employing 10-49 people see their futures the darkest. The rate of SMEs that expect unfavourable or very poor future business situations is quite high (86%) compared to others. Looking at industries we find that these expectations are the most common among companies specialising in accommodation and catering services (93 percent), trade (86 per cent), delivery and logistics (86 per cent) and miscellaneous services (86 per cent), as shown in Figure 1.


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