Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: Employee and consumer confidence remains top concern in spring business survey

MADISON – Today the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce; Destination Madison; Downtown Madison, Inc.; Madison Black Chamber of Commerce and Latino Chamber of Commerce released the results of a Spring 2021 Business Survey, which yielded responses from 368 Greater Madison businesses representing a diverse, mostly small or locally owned, cross-section of industries, as well as a significant percentage of women- and minority-owned businesses. The survey was conducted in partnership with the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce, Fitchburg Chamber Visitor + Business Bureau, Middleton Chamber of Commerce and Verona Area Chamber of Commerce.

Among the survey’s key findings are:

  • 60 percent rated consumer and employee confidence as a top need, closely followed by a related need for more customers at 55 percent;
  • 70 percent experienced a decline in revenue in 2020 compared to 2019, with 24 percent losing more than half their revenue;
  • While businesses have worked to insulate their employees from experiencing negative impact, 52 percent have still had a reduction in employee benefits or workforce;
  • While there are positive trends and fewer businesses predicting closure, 31 percent have already closed or expect to close in the next 12 months if local public health orders are unchanged;
  • The most common local spending reductions were on entertainment (71 percent), meetings and events (69 percent), restaurants (67 percent), catering (48 percent) and hotels (43 percent);
  • 54 percent are utilizing at least some remote work, up from 27 percent pre-pandemic;
  • 18 percent rate Dane County’s business climate as above average or excellent;
  • 28 percent rate local elected officials’ performance during the pandemic as above average or excellent.

“While there are reasons for optimism in this data, challenges clearly persist that demand immediate attention and action,” said Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon. “We know Greater Madison will recover from this pandemic, but the speed and equitable impact of our recovery relies on strong public-private partnerships and maintaining an equilibrium among economic needs, health concerns and instilling public confidence.”

“With the wider distribution of the vaccine and continued promotion of the safety guidelines from Dane County Public Health, we hope that consumer confidence will start to return and both residents and visitors will feel comfortable dining out, shopping, visiting attractions and attending events which help our local economy recover from the pandemic,” said Destination Madison President and CEO Ellie Westman Chin.

“Our economic recovery will not reach its full potential unless that recovery is inclusive and equitable,” said Latino Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jessica Cavazos. “Our businesses and members of our community are determined to take on the challenges ahead, but collaboration and urgent and strategic action are needed to achieve long-term success.”

“The root of a vibrant, welcoming and successful downtown is activity generated by the hundreds of thousands of employees, residents and visitors who congregate downtown each day. As we see from the survey, employee and consumer confidence continue to be significant barriers to activating downtown,” said Jason Ilstrup, President of Downtown Madison, Inc. “However, there are signs of hope with many employers wanting to return to pre-pandemic work models and consumers gaining confidence as the vaccine rollout continues.”

Among the 368 survey respondents, 81 percent have 50 or fewer employees, 89 percent are headquartered in Dane County, 73 percent have locations only in Dane County, 41 percent are women- or other gender-owned or -led, and 16 percent are owned or led by an individual who is non-white.

This is the third survey conducted since the beginning of the pandemic to collect information regarding current business operations, challenges and potential opportunities. The results of the Spring 2021 survey will be used to inform policymakers and continue a predictable path forward balancing the needs of health, the economy and public confidence.

Topline survey results are available upon request by emailing Erik Greenfield at [email protected].

About the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: 
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business with more than 1,200 organizations – ranging from one-person shops to corporations with more than 10,000 employees – working to bring the Greater Madison area to its full potential. The Greater Madison region is a leader in innovation. From cutting-edge technologies to distinctive retail shops to inventive services and products, our members vary greatly but are united by the region’s entrepreneurial spirit. More information can be found at madisonbiz.com.

About Destination Madison:

Destination Madison is honored to play a key role in supporting the thousands of Dane County jobs supported by tourism. Promoting tourism in Madison since 1972, Destination Madison continues to work strategically to expand upon the more than $1.4 billion generated by visitor spending in Dane Country in 2019. For the most up-to-date information, visit our website at visitmadison.com.

About the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce:

The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce is a group of community members working to empower African American/Black people to cultivate and expand entrepreneurship. We believe that Black-owned businesses contribute significantly to the economic well-being of Madison. Learn more at madisonblackchamber.com.

About the Latino Chamber of Commerce:

Founded in 2003, the Latino Chamber of Commerce represents the Latino and non-Latino business community in the Greater Madison area and surrounding cities. We assist and promote the interests of our members and community through advocacy and programs that make an overall impact to Dane County’s economic growth. The diverse relationship of our active members and partners is an ideal mixture of small business owners, corporate representatives and government leaders. Learn more at lccwi.org.

About Downtown Madison, Inc.:

Downtown Madison, Inc. (DMI) is committed to sustaining, planning for, and growing downtown Madison as a vibrant regional economic engine that offers a best-in-class quality of life for businesses, downtown workers, residents and visitors. Learn more at downtownmadison.org.