Consumer-facing companies have been among the hardest hit, as mandated stay-at-home orders — combined with economic uncertainty — have brought consumer spending to a halt for all but essential products and services. It’s no surprise then that in PwC’s COVID-19 US CFO Pulse Survey, consumer markets (CM) CFOs report a higher level of concern than their peers in other industries, with 83% citing significant impact causing great concern, versus 74% in sectors overall.
33% of consumer markets CFOs say they expect it will take 6 months or more, compared to 18% across all sectors.
More CM CFOs (50%) said reduced spending resulting from a decrease in consumer confidence is a top-three concern, versus 39% in all sectors. Supply chain disruption is also top of mind for CM CFOs: 37% versus 21% for all sectors.
Consumer-facing companies run the gamut from consumer-packaged goods and retail to travel, hospitality and transportation. As consumers self-quarantine, some CM industry products and services are deemed essential and are in great demand, while there’s almost a complete lack of demand for others. As a result, some subsectors are rapidly ramping up their workforce, while others are considering temporary furloughs or permanent layoffs.
CM CFOs are more likely to take advantage of government programs such as the CARES Act (63%), versus 49% across all sectors.
Companies already prepared for digital disruption are in a much better position to handle the sudden, sharp shock of COVID-19, as consumers migrate online in an effort to shelter in place. This trend is expected to have lasting effects, necessitating business model transformation to stay relevant and meet consumers where they want to be: online.