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Survey Among Businesses in Mannheim Shows that December Lockdown did not Affect but Shift Profits in Closed Sectors

The second lockdown is another huge challenge for all affected businesses. Unfortunately, relief is not yet in sight, as the federal government and the state governments decided to extend the business closures and imposed further restrictions on businesses. The coronavirus survey of the German Business panel (GBP) of the University of Mannheim sheds light on the impact that the second lockdown has had on businesses and the economy so far. A central finding of the study is that the businesses’ profits dropped by 16 percent during the coronavirus crisis in the year 2020. The tightened measures of the government in December did not cause another drop of the profits and the government aids in the second half of 2020 stopped the profit slump of the first half of the year. However, the data show that the profits are shifted within the same sector.

More than 10,000 businesses from all over Germany participate regularly in the representative study of the German Business Panel. The study is based on current data that was collected until December 30, 2020 and explores how the measures in the past year affected the businesses’ economic situations.

The expected business profits are fair to middling. The respondents currently expect that their profits dropped by 16.6 percent in the past year. This value has slightly recovered since the first half of 2020, as in summer it was at 22 percent. At the same time, more businesses see the state aids in a more positive light than last summer. Back then, 54.2 percent of the businesses regarded the state aids as sufficient. In November/December, 58.5 percent of the businesses shared this opinion.

The study results also point out that profits were shifted after businesses were closed in December. The retail sector serves as a good example. Retailers that had to close as of December 16 report that their profits dropped by another 3.4 percentage points. In contrast, retailers that were allowed to keep their doors open report that their profits slightly increased. This indicates that customers purchased certain products in other retailer stores as usual because these were still open (for example stationery or toys in supermarkets).

The study “Empirische Erkenntnisse zum zweiten Lockdown: Rückgang und Umverteilung von Unternehmensgewinnen trotz Staatshilfen(Empirical findings from the second lockdown - decline and shifts of business profits despite state aids) is based on surveys of the German Business Panel. The GBP is the long-term survey panel of the trans-regional Collaborative Research Centre „TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency“ which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

To read a summary of the study in German, please go to:

To go to the website of the GBP, please click here: