May’s survey data painted a deeply concerning picture of a lockdown slowdown across the service sector as employment dropped at the second fastest rate on record, pipelines of new work were woefully empty and business confidence continued to suffer.
As the pandemic progressed any hoped-for bounceback in business output never really got going in May following the previous month’s awful results, though a modicum of recovery will offer small respite in some sectors. Pockets of trading began again as firms began adapting to social distancing measures, though only 15% of companies reported a rise in new orders this month.
In this aggressively unsympathetic marketplace, supply chain managers voiced their concerns that any significant improvement is unlikely to happen at least in the medium term. As supply chains began to awaken from their deep slumber, continuing logistics challenges increased costs for some firms though reduced wage bills helped to alleviate the pressure.
As restrictions are eased, there is still extreme uncertainty about how the pandemic will pan out. Continued anxiety about the coronavirus means consumer spending may not be the wind beneath the sails of any immediate return to pre-virus economic activity.